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Manchester to host new £5m arthritis research unit

Patients across the North West and beyond are set to benefit from a new national research unit based in Manchester which will investigate the treatment of arthritis and other diseases affecting the joints and muscles.

The Manchester NIHR Biomedical Research Unit (BRU) will be run in partnership by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.  The partners already have a highly regarded Musculoskeletal (MSK) Research Group, and have successfully applied to the National Institute for Health Research for almost £5 million to set up a nationally recognised BRU to extend the group's work.

Led by Professor Deborah Symmons, the team of researchers and clinicians will pioneer new methods of assessing early response to treatment in adults and children with MSK disease, new ways of preventing rheumatoid arthritis and its complications, new therapies for arthritis and new resources for patients to help them achieve the best response to treatment.

"This is a hugely exciting development for Manchester," said Professor Symmons. "Our research theme is, 'Treating arthritis: right first time'. By understanding why some patients respond to certain treatments and others do not, we will be able to ensure that patients get the right treatment for them from the earliest weeks of disease. Indeed, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, we believe that we will be able to prevent the disease developing in people who are at high risk.

"The benefits for patients are significant: fewer cases of rheumatoid arthritis and its complications, and effective treatments given earlier in the course of disease with fewer side effects leading to better disease outcomes for the most common forms of arthritis."

Mike Deegan, Chief Executive of the Trust, said: "Congratulations to the successful BRU team on an excellent bid and a very welcome result.  This further enhances Manchester's already strong reputation for musculoskeletal research, and will significantly boost the work of translating it into innovative treatment for patients."

Professor Ian Jacobs, Vice-President of The University of Manchester and Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, added: "This is important recognition of the quality of research in musculoskeletal research being conducted by Professor Symmons and the team. It is built upon outstanding collaborative interactions between the University and NHS Trust and most importantly will bring benefits for the quality of life of our patients."