Birmingham researcher wins £1m from Arthritis Research UK

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Birmingham researcher wins £1m from Arthritis Research UK

A Birmingham doctor has been granted one million pounds by medical charity Arthritis Research UK to study Sjögren’s syndrome (tear film insufficiency disorder), which affects around half a million people in the UK.

Dr Simon Bowman, a consultant rheumatologist at the city’s Selly Oak Hospital, has been given the charity cash to run a drug trial that he hopes could dramatically improve treatment of this little known condition.

Sufferers of Sjogren’s syndrome experience dryness of the mouth and eyes, extreme fatigue, and a range of other symptoms. This is because the body’s immune system attacks itself, particularly the tear glands and salivary glands, rather than the infections and other nasties that it usually fights off.

Dr Bowman, who ran a small pilot study into Sjögren’s two years ago, will now recruit up to 110 patients from hospitals around the country onto a full-scale clinical trial, comparing the drug rituximab against placebo in improving dryness and fatigue.

He will be working with colleagues in Leeds, London and elsewhere who have an interest in Sjögren’s syndrome…

“Those of us with an interest in Sjögren’s have been talking about doing a trial like this for some years,” said Dr Bowman, “so I’m delighted that we are finally getting to do it. There is good background research to suggest that rituximab is worth looking at, and that this is a sensible trial to be doing.”

Women aged between 40 and 60 are most likely to be diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome whilst only 1 in 10 of sufferers are men.

Arthritis Research UK has a wealth of information on arthritis and arthritis related diseases like Sjögren’s. Its main priority is funding top-class research and campaigning on behalf of the UK’s ten million arthritis patients.

2011 is a special year for the charity as it celebrates its 75th anniversary. In 75 years, the charity has gone through a series of rebrandings, most recently in March 2010 when it changed from being the Arthritis Research Campaign (ARC) to its current guise of Arthritis Research UK. We’ve also seen huge strides forward in the scientific treatment of arthritis related diseases – the introduction of drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen; hip replacements and other joint replacements; and generally unlocking the secrets of the immune system.

By funding research like that being carried out by Dr Bowman in Birmingham, Arthritis Research UK hopes to continue to improve the lives of people with arthritis for another 75 years.

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