Multi-£million fellowship for rheumatology researcher

illustration of inflammation in the joint of the hand

Dr Adam Croft, a specialist in rheumatology working across BHP, has recently been awarded £2.5 million funding by the Kennedy Trust for Rheumatology Research to develop his research into treatment-resistant rheumatoid arthritis.

The award of a Rheumatology Research Senior Fellowship means Adam will be able to establish a research team in Birmingham to study the reasons why certain patients do not respond to current treatments. This will involve experimental medicine studies to identify potential new drug therapies.

Dr Adam CroftDr Croft explained: “Most clinical and experimental studies in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) focus at an early stage of the disease. While it is important to find ways to prevent the disease or slow its progression, we must also consider how we improve the lives of patients with advanced and difficult to treat forms of RA.  I’m delighted that my fellowship means we’ll now be able to do focused research into a previously overlooked group.

“This will make UHB one of the first centres in the country to focus on potential new treatments for patients for whom traditional treatments haven’t worked.

“I’d like to thank both the Kennedy Trust for the Fellowship award as well as colleagues across UHB and UoB for their support throughout the application process.”

Dr Croft’s team will build on recent developments in rheumatology research, such as the ability to perform an analysis of different types of cells present within the lining of the joint including cells known as fibroblasts These cells are known to drive inflammation and may also explain why some patients don’t respond to current treatments.

The BEACON study, developed by the Rheumatology Research team, suggested that in the future these could be “switched off”, potentially stopping rheumatoid arthritis before it even begins.

Research has also shown that, although there are a number of treatments currently available for rheumatoid arthritis, patients tend to relapse with their symptoms returning if they stop taking the treatments. Thanks to Dr Croft’s Fellowship funding, research will take place in Birmingham to understand why this is the case.

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