UK-based biotechnology company Oxford BioDynamics has participated in a collaboration to identify biological factors that cause disease relapses, known as flares, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Oxford BioDynamics is one of the six consortium partners, which have collaborated to examine and address the causes for the relapse of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), with a special focus on RA.

In addition to Oxford Biodynamics, the consortium comprises the National Health Service (NHS) England, three UK universities and one commercial company from Germany.

The consortium has been awarded a £2.8m grant from the UK’s publicly funded government agency Medical Research Council (MRC) to conduct the research titled as the biological factors that limit sustained remission in RA (BIO-FLARE) study.

As part of the consortium, Oxford BioDynamics will use its technology platform, EpiSwitch, to recognise epigenetic biomarkers in RA patient population that are associated with impending relapse in RA.

Any resultant IP generated by Oxford BioDynamics will be retained by the company in order to develop a prognostic test that will have the capability to accurately predict patients who are likely to have RA flares.

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"We are pleased to be a part of this consortium, working together to gain a greater understanding of the relapsing and remitting aspect of RA."

Oxford BioDynamics CEO Christian Hoyer Millar said: “Whilst a considerable amount is understood about RA aetiology and pathogenesis, nothing is known of the factors that trigger disease relapses, changing the disease from an inactive to an active state.

“We are pleased to be a part of this consortium, working together to gain a greater understanding of the relapsing and remitting aspect of RA.

“The work we will undertake as part of the BIO-FLARE study has the potential to lead us to the development of an epigenetic-based prognostic test for RA flares, an important unmet medical need.”

Approximately ten million people in the UK are currently affected with a form of arthritis, nearly 700,000 of which suffer from RA, causing joint pain and swelling, stiffness and fatigue.

Since there is no known treatment for rheumatoid arthritis condition, a patient suffering from it might have the average life expectancy shortened by three to seven years.

According to the British Society for Rheumatology, without adequate treatment, people suffering from severe forms of RA have the possibility to die as many as ten to 15 years earlier than expected.