Helping to develop new treatments
Patients who suffer from debilitating joint pain following a tropical viral infection are set to benefit from new Keele University research.
Dr Anja Winter from Keele University's School of Life Sciences has received a prestigious Springboard grant from the Academy of Medical Sciences, to investigate severe joint pain in patients infected with Chikungunya virus (CHIKV).
The aim of the research is to aid development of new treatments and pain management techniques, which could also benefit those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Chikungunya virus is a rapidly spreading infectious disease that has attracted global attention due to its prevalence in large parts of the tropics and subtropic regions. Although the resulting acute infection is generally non-fatal, it frequently evolves into a long-lasting, debilitating disorder similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
The severe joint pain caused by CHIKV infection has a major impact on patients' quality of life, forcing them to reduce their daily activities and in some cases give up their jobs. This in turn leads to depression, loss of earnings, and social exclusion in already deprived regions of the world.
Studying biological mechanisms
Dr Winter's research will study the crucial biological processes that lead to this chronic arthritis, which in turn will drive new clinical treatments. The project will use cutting-edge techniques to study the mechanisms leading to chronic CHIKV infection and enable research into effective treatments, specifically looking at changes in joints and their implications for joint inflammation and degradation.
Due to their similarities with rheumatoid arthritis, these could also inform new treatments for that disease.
Patients who suffer from this debilitating disease following a CHIKV infection not only have to deal with the painful physical consequences, but can also be forced to give up their jobs due to the pain and miss out on daily activities, severely impacting their quality of life. Through this study we hope to learn more about the fundamental biological processes that cause this painful arthritis, so that we can lay the foundations for new treatments that help these patients lead fulfilling and enjoyable lives."
Dr Anja Winter, Keele University's School of Life Sciences
The AMS Springboard grant scheme funds biomedical and health researchers in the UK and globally, to advance medical science and translate research into tangible benefits for patients and society.