Touching Lives - June 2004
New findings on rheumatic disorders
They are also equally as debilitating and cause a great deal of pain and suffering. The best known SpAs are ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, where inflammation of the spine and joints is common. In ankylosing spondylitis the bones of the spine can eventually fuse together. The diseases target the sites where tendons and ligaments insert into bone (the ‘insertion site’), but the underlying cause of the conditions is poorly understood.
Grants totalling £38,000 from Action Medical Research have enabled researchers at the Universities of Cardiff and Leeds to explore the possibility that mechanical stress is important in triggering disease in genetically susceptible individuals.
The study has also uncovered an important finding about the presence of fat in the insertion sites. Previously, fat was regarded to be a sign of joint degeneration, but this research suggests that fat may in fact play an important role in the protection of sites where tendons and ligaments insert into the bone.
Professor Mike Benjamin, who is heading the two-year study, told us, “^We have made rapid and exciting progress in the first 18 months of this project^ and see every prospect of the work continuing to pay rich dividends.
“An important next step is to use our new x-ray machine to tell us key information about bone at the sites where tendons and ligaments attach. This should help us to understand changes in bone which occur in spondyloarthropathy patients.”
Thanks go to SEARCH who helped to fund this project.