Medics aching to see new arthritis centre

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Big changes are coming to the University of Oxford’s medical research facilities.

Earlier this month, the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Osteoarthritis Pathogenesis at the University of Oxford was granted £5.5 million, according to a recent University press release.

The new osteoarthritis research centre was launched during National Arthritis Week, which ran from October 7 to 13. The facility received  £2.5 million from Arthritis Research UK, £2.5 million from the University of Oxford and an additional  £500,000 from the Kennedy Trust.

The centre’s aims are to “understand why osteoarthritis develops, identify novel disease markers, and develop new therapies for patients with osteoarthritis,” according to the Arthritis Research UK Centre’s web page.

“My joints are aching to see the new Osteoarthritis Centre,” said Felicity de Vere, a 5th year clinical medic. “Healthcare resource allocation is always a difficult issue, but osteoarthritis is an extremely common and debilitating disease, which I believe makes it a worthy investment,” she said.

“The condition can not only cause stiffness and difficulty working, but also chronic pain, which in itself can lead to psychiatric problems such as severe depression. It is therefore key to give sufficient physical and mental support to those with this chronic disease,” De Vere added.

The Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre is also set to receive £8.75 million in funding from Cancer Research UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of a larger £35 million plan to fund four research centres throughout the United Kingdom.

Other facilities set to receive £8.75 million each include the Institute of Cancer Research in London, The Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre created in conjunction with King’s College London and University College London; and a new joint facility founded by the University of Cambridge and the University of Manchester.

“At the Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre we use research and imaging science to improve cancer treatments for patients and we can quickly take research results into the cancer clinic,” said Professor Ruth Muschel, co-director of the Oxford Cancer Imaging Center, in a recent press release. “With the new award we will focus on using new methods to image the tumours and their surroundings to improve cancer therapy,” she added.

Funding for the Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre will be used to find more successful cancer treatments, improve drug effectiveness, and will also support research projects designed to determine how individual breast cancer patients respond differently to treatment plans.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), research facilities like those at the University of Oxford are much needed. Osteoarthritis, a condition that leads to joint damage and often results in pain and stiffness around the knees and hips, affects roughly 1 million people in the UK per year.

The NHS also reports that more than one in three people will get cancer during their lifetime, citing breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, bowel cancer, bladder cancer and uterine cancer as some of the most common forms.

Kelli Konicek, an American third year visiting student currently studying biology, said the University’s commitment to research can only lead to positive results for both the medical community and Oxford students searching for research opportunities.

“Whenever an academic institution decides to fund scientific research, it is not only a benefit for medicine and discovery, but an opportunity for students to get a foothold in the scientific community,” she said. “Hopefully, opening the doors to new research opportunities will also help develop better treatment for osteoarthritis,” Konicek added.