funding medical research into
cancer, rheumatology and arthritis

Dr David Young

The first grant awarded by the JGWP Foundation allowed us to recruit a new member of academic staff, Dr David Young, to the Musculoskeletal Research Group in Newcastle University. His brief was to develop a new research laboratory that focused on osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disabling joint disease predominantly affecting older people. The cartilage, which allows pain free movement of the joints, becomes degraded leading to pain and disability for patients. The cartilage tissue is produced by cells called chondrocytes. If the removal of cartilage components by these cells exceeds the building up of new cartilage, then the tissue will be gradually destroyed. This is what happens in OA cartilage.

This early JGWP grant has allowed David Young to establish a research group of 9 researchers that aims to understand the cellular processes occurring in OA. He is a co applicant on a prestigious Arthritis Research-UK programme grant for £1.1 million that aims to understand how new factors called microRNAs control the behaviour of chondrocytes and contribute to the cartilage destruction seen in osteoarthritis and therefore provide potential new treatments for this disabling disease. The Newcastle component of this 5 year award plays to one of our main strengths in the North East, access to human tissue, kindly donated by patients at joint replacement surgery. Using this and human stem cells we’re developing models of cartilage in the laboratory. We then use these models to determine what microRNAs are important when cartilage breaks down, as in diseases like OA. Along with this we want to know what microRNAs are important for cartilage to form in the first instance and so allow us to “engineer” cartilage in the lab to be used to replace damaged cartilage in a patient.

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