Arthritis Research UK
We understand the value that fresh perspectives and multidisciplinary collaborations can bring in tackling complex research challenges. We are working in partnership with Arthritis Research UK to encourage new collaborations and innovative research projects that could lead to significant progress in both disease areas.
Why we formed the partnership
In February 2017 we made a commitment with Arthritis Research UK to explore ways we could work together to maximise progress in our shared strategic priorities spanning both cancer and arthritis or related musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders.
Together we have identified common challenges across research areas including immunology, early detection, precision medicine and the microbiome. We believe that by working together in these areas through knowledge sharing, community building, and co-funding relevant research, we can increase our impact leading to greater patient benefit.
Our partnership aims to dissolve the barriers that separate the fields of oncology and inflammatory disease and promote cross-disciplinary synergies that will bring mutual benefit and accelerate progress in both disease areas. We expect that these will arise from new collaborations, and through the development of innovative, radical and pioneering approaches.
Driving progress in immunology
Advances in the field of immunology are bringing benefits to significant numbers of patients; immunology is a strategic priority for both CRUK and Arthritis Research UK. Therefore, our first collaborative endeavour is to host a joint sandpit workshop on the theme of immune homeostasis.
Immune homeostasis can be defined as an equilibrium, which the immune system reaches. In health, this equilibrium results in the discrimination of potentially harmful foreign entities from self. Conversely, dysregulated homeostasis can have severe consequences. For example, an over-reactive immune response can lead to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but might also limit the growth of cancer cells and the formation of tumours. The molecular and cellular basis of dysregulated homeostasis is core to the immunology of MSK disease and to cancer.
While the workshop is focussed on immune homeostasis, there are many opportunities for shared learnings across the spectrum of inflammatory diseases and cancer. From the roles of defined cell types in the arthritic knee to cancer metastasis; through the development of new clinical paradigms by which oncologists and rheumatologists integrate their experiences; to an understanding of how wound healing may relate to remission in both sets of diseases.
We’re using a sandpit workshop as a unique approach to generate creative, multidisciplinary research projects that would not receive funding through traditional mechanisms. Sandpit workshops run over three days, where participants explore a research challenge, build new collaborations and think outside-the-box to develop a pitch for new innovative research ideas. On the final day the best ideas are recommended for seed funding support.
We expect successful project teams to form lasting collaborations, generating subsequent project proposals submitted to either CRUK, Arthritis Research UK or other relevant funders for further long-term funding.