GCU leads £3million knee arthritis study

31 March 2014

KNEEMO will look at Knee Osteoarthritis

KNEEMO will look at Knee Osteoarthritis

GCU researchers will lead one of Europe’s largest ever investigations into the diagnosis and treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis, a painful condition which affects around 500,000 people in Scotland, including one in five people over the age of 50.

The €4.2m (£3.6m) KNEEMO project, which begins on April 1, will see the development of new methods to diagnose, treat, or even prevent the disease from developing among those who are particularly at risk.

KNEEMO, which will see GCU experts in musculoskeletal health work with colleagues in six other universities and three private companies, will look at how Knee Osteoarthritis is diagnosed, developing a range of new techniques which will allow doctors and other allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatrists to spot patients who are showing signs of the illness and also those who are at risk of the disease developing.

Experts will create personalised computer models of patients’ knees for the first time. These will make it easier to understand how various factors – such as the way a patient walks or runs – are linked to Knee Osteoarthritis.

The disease is currently treated with pain or anti-inflammatory medication, exercise therapy, or the use of braces, with knee replacement surgery as the final option. Research has shown the effectiveness of treatments varies greatly and the project will seek to improve this by more closely matching treatments to the various types of people who live with the condition.

Professor Martijn Steultjens, musculoskeletal health expert and project leader, said:

“Knee Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic musculoskeletal disorder and there is currently no cure available. The condition is worsened by some of the major health issues of our time, including an ageing population, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, so this major European grant is extremely timely.

“Our project focuses on identifying the right patients for the right treatment at the right time, calling on a wide range of academic disciplines to develop new best practices with which to tackle this common and debilitating disease.”

The four-year study begins in April and will also see the creation of a training programme to develop a new generation of highly-skilled researchers in this field.

Professor Alan Silman, Medical Director of Arthritis Research UK, said:

“Knee osteoarthritis is one of the most important health problems affecting function in an ageing population. The novel approach from this consortium provides some unique opportunities to explore the potential to prevent this important condition affecting musculoskeletal health.”