Helping people with arthritis

09 Nov 2016

Eight years ago, we awarded £498,000 to Professor Costantino Pitzalis and his research team, with one clear goal in mind: making a positive change to the way people with arthritis are treated.

Now, it’s delivering amazing results for patients.

Staff at the opening of the Early Arthritis Referral Centre

Arthritis is an incredibly common problem, affecting around 10 million people of all ages – including children – in the UK alone.

Crucially however, 40% of people with arthritis don’t respond to drug treatments. As well as this, there’s no way of knowing whether a person will respond.

The disease also does its worst in the first two years of being present, meaning early treatment is critical.

Professor Pitzalis has now pioneered the creation of the Early Arthritis Referral Centre (staff from the EARC pictured). The Centre is seeing 2,500 patients per year, and is giving personalised treatment within two weeks of referral.

Following treatment for arthritis, 17% of patients in the UK typically go into remission. At the EARC, it’s 24%.

This is a demonstration of the power of research to deliver real clinical benefits to patients not just in London, but around the world – this work is now leading to clinical training to help people across Europe and the USA.

Not only that, but Professor Pitzalis has shown the strength of his work with 191 research publications and funding from various organisations for his work now totalling over £20m.

Professor Pitzalis said: “We wanted to help the thousands of people suffering because they weren’t getting the right treatment early enough. Without Barts Charity’s funding, all we have achieved would have been impossible.”

Next steps for the team will be the development of an app to help patients count their joint problems themselves, as well as continuing to accelerate the development of new drugs and increasing the capacity of the EARC.

This research is helping to give the right drug to the right patient, first time – treating a chronic pain problem that as many of you may know can cause immense discomfort.

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