Versus Arthritis Priorities 2023: Accelerating Diagnosis and Treatment

Closing Date: 09/11/2022

Funding over a maximum of five years to support biological, psychological and social research ito improve the early detection, diagnosis and prevention of arthritis and the development of reliable and effective personalised diagnosis, treatments and interventions.

The Versus Arthritis research strategy ‘Better Lives Today, Better Lives Tomorrow 2022-2026‘ aims to accelerate the pace and precision of musculoskeletal research to make arthritis preventable, manageable, and treatable and improve the experience and lives of people with arthritis.

The ‘Priorities 2023: Accelerating Diagnosis and Treatment‘ Call for Applications is seeking 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.

Funding of up to £800,000 over five years is available to researchers based at universities, hospitals or other academic research institutes in the UK for 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. Projects should consider individuals as a whole and take into account multi-factor approaches, multiple conditions, symptoms (pain, fatigue, mental health) and experiences – rather than focussing on discrete conditions and symptoms.

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.

Proposed studies must advance the translational pathway towards new or improved approaches to prevention, diagnosis or treatment. The future benefit for people with arthritis should be clearly and reasonably discussed within the application and it should be clear from the application what the next step will be beyond the proposed study.

Studies clearly emphasising the route to translation from laboratories to people with arthritis will be prioritised.

Funding body Versus Arthritis
Maximum value £800,000
Reference ID S24182
Category Medical Research
Biotechnology and Biology
Economic and Social Research
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Fund or call Fund