Research: Finding Answers
Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are diseases of the immune system, whose function in health is to defend from infection and cancer. In arthritis, the immune system produces too much inflammation, which sustains itself and provokes increasing damage to the joint and the whole body. Some of these diseases are called autoimmune precisely because the immune system reacts against its own body.
Current therapies do not end this battle created in the body. They powerfully and indiscriminately suppress components of the immune system that are a part of the problem. Consequently, this approach has an increased risk of infections and cancer, is often inconvenient, may be toxic, and is expensive.
The UAAC researchers and scientists are working to develop a blend of innovative approaches to turn problems into solutions. These approaches have the potential to work together with current therapies and ensure a safer, more convenient and cost-effective reversal of the disease process. The tools being developed by Center researchers and scientists are based on reestablishment of the natural mechanisms of disease control that are impaired by the disease process. These approaches range from restoration of tolerance, to reconstruction of destroyed joints, to better understanding of the mind-body relationship.
From molecules to minds, from treatments to tools, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center’s research programs provide cutting-edge progress on the pathway to finding cures for arthritis.
Types of Research
Basic Biomedical Research
Basic biomedical research is driven by curiosity and may answer a specific scientific question. It expands fundamental knowledge, and is not immediately geared toward creating or validating a product.
Clinical research is a biomedical or health-related research study in humans that seeks to determine the risk factors for developing a disease and/or the progression of a disease. Clinical research may also seek to identify ways to improve disease-related outcomes.
Translational research makes the finding from basic biomedical research more relevant to patient care. Translational medicine is a continuum of activities that spans from identifying an idea to creating new therapies, diagnostics, and/or protocols for human diseases.
Areas of Research
- Myositis - Polymyositis and Dermatomyositis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Connective Tissue Disease
Examples of Center’s research include:
Imaging in arthritis
Mihra Taljanovic, MD, studies the utilization of novel imaging techniques in arthritis.
Industry-Sponsored Clinical Trials
We are currently conducting a number of different industry-sponsored clinical trials. Please visit the Clinical Research Unit for more information about specific studies and how to enroll.
Investigator-initiated studies (IIS)
Pharmaceutical companies often have a portion of their budget set aside for "investigator-initiated studies" (IIS), which are clinical, translational, or basic research studies designed and spearheaded by the investigator and not the company. Click on the link above for more information about our IIS studies.
Joyce Wu, PhD is engaged in research elucidating how microbial flora of the gut decisively impacts the immune events leading up to arthritis in the animal model of inflammatory arthritis.
Dr. John Szivek leads a diverse team with research foci in orthopedic bioengineering topics, including analysis of the weight bearing loads on joints during exercise and the development of innovative tools to regenerate and remodel bone and cartilage. For more information about his research and opportunities in his lab, click here.