£5 Million Fund To Improve Early Detection And Targeted Treatments For Arthritis

The Versus Arthritis Priorities Call 2024 is offering awards of between £100,000 and £1.2 million for projects to improve early detection and prevention of arthritis and the development of targeted treatments.

Versus Arthritis has launched its Priorities 2024 Call for Applications: ‘Early Detection and Targeted Treatments‘ to support research into the early detection and prevention of arthritis and the development of reliable and effective personalised diagnosis, treatment and interventions to halt or reverse disease progression. The overall aim of the call is to support novel research that develops ambitious patient-specific approaches and removes the variability in diagnosis and treatment, accounting for individual genes, environment and lifestyle.

The call focusses on two of the four priority areas of the Versus Arthritis research strategy:

  • Early detection and prevention: spotting the biological signatures of arthritis early to maximise the opportunities for timely intervention and preventing it from getting worse.
  • Targeted treatments: taking the guesswork out of treatment by increasing effective, reliable and timely drug and non-drug solutions to reduce, manage or cure disease.

There is a total fund of £5 million for the 2024 Call, which will fund awards in the range of £100,000 to £1.2 million over a maximum period of five years (60 months). Proposals are invited from academics, clinicians or allied health care professionals based at universities, hospitals or recognised academic research institutes in the UK. At least one applicant or co-applicant must hold a tenured position within the lead institute.

The call covers biological, psychological and social research projects that will advance the translational pathway towards new or improved approaches to prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Research should address unmet needs around secondary prevention (detecting predisposition and early stages of disease and targeting pre-clinical or pre-symptomatic disease intervention) more so than primary prevention and public health agendas.

The call scope includes all types of arthritis and their differential development at any stage of life. Funding awards are available for a range of different size projects across the biological, psychological and social research spectrum, encompassing fields of expertise including scientific, health profession, diagnostic/intervention, medical technology and data.

Funding is available for projects in the following areas:

  • Pre-disease pathophysiology – understanding mechanisms underlying symptom development and risk to enable prevention and early diagnosis to reduce the impact of disease.
  • Diagnostic markers and indicators – developing reliable pre-symptomatic markers and diagnostic disease indicators and biomarkers (including digital biomarkers) to predict and detect arthritis at the earliest possible stage. This can encompass assay development and validation where there is a clear development pathway to clinical implementation, as well as use of exploratory end-points to provide clinical validity in the development of new measures.
  • Genetic risk scores – exploring use as part of routine clinical management for arthritis conditions known to be genetically linked.
  • Social and psychological influences – understanding the social and psychological factors and health inequalities that influence and/or predict disease development, not extending into factors influencing disease progression and outcome.
  • Precision medicine and profiling/stratification approaches – working across multi-omics platforms, informatics, digital data sources and medical technologies developing and improving targeted treatments and personalised interventions to halt or reverse disease progression. This includes identifying people with distinct mechanisms of disease, lived experience or particular response to treatments to understand when and in whom a treatment may or may not be effective.
  • Alternatives to drugs or surgery – developing reliable, cost-effective psychotherapeutic and social interventions.
  • Disease linkage – understanding of how diseases are linked, and where what is learned about one disease can be used to tackle other diseases.
  • Disease agnostic pathways – understanding of common mechanisms of disease, particularly chronic inflammation, autoimmunity and immune-mediated inflammation.

Applications must be submitted by the deadline on 27 September 2023.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)