Can we cure rheumatoid arthritis?

The past 20 years have seen a revolution in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) management, due to earlier and more intensive treatment, and targeted therapies. However, less than 50% of patients achieve disease remission, and most will relapse if therapy is stopped. In this seminar I will discuss our current experimental medicine studies which focus on improving RA outcomes. These include therapeutic tolerance induction, targeting of the RA synovial fibroblast, and developing a better understanding of remission and relapse biology in the context of RA.
John Isaacs is Professor of Clinical Rheumatology at Newcastle University. His work focusses on the potential of novel immunotherapies to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ranging from target identification to early- and late-stage clinical trials. He has performed several pioneering experimental medicine studies in patients with inflammatory disease, challenging existing dogma and informing the design of subsequent generations of therapeutic agents. He was the first to demonstrate immunogenicity of a humanised therapeutic antibody, CAMPATH-1H (Lancet).
Professor Isaacs runs a research group focussed on therapeutic tolerance induction. Recently his team developed, and completed a phase 1 study of, tolerogenic dendritic cell therapy in inflammatory arthritis patients. In 1999, Professor Isaacs received the British Society for Rheumatology Michael Mason Medal and, in 2010, he presented the Heberden Round to the Society.
From 2007 to 2017 Professor Isaacs chaired ARUK’s Clinical Study Group for Adult Inflammatory Arthritis, developing a competitive research agenda for the UK. He also led the MRC/ABPI RA-MAP consortium, seeking prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers for RA. He is a PI of the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration for inflammatory disease, and a member of the MRC’s Translational Research Group. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Current grant funding as principal applicant, £7.1m; total current grant funding £43.8m.