Adolescent Arthritis


Missions and Objectives

What are the aims of this research?

Adolescence (10-19 years) represents an important time in a person’s life, with rapid change in physical, emotional, educational, and social development.  Arthritis (which effects 1 in 1000 children) and other rheumatic diseases such as dermatomyositis and lupus can be severely disabling and occasionally life-threatening. Some of these illnesses even start most frequently during adolescence. The Centre’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of adolescents with arthritis by undertaking cutting edge research and ensuring that patients have the opportunity to be part of research and clinical trials. The Centre also provides education, training and a national network to increase the number of experts in the area. The centre addresses a number of key research questions, including:

1)      What are the best treatments for adolescents with arthritis or other rheumatic diseases such as lupus?

2)      Why do many of these conditions develop during adolescents?

3)      What are the effects of having long-standing arthritis?

4)      What happens to children and teenagers who develop arthritis and rheumatic diseases when they grow up?

Why is this research important?

Having arthritis during adolescence is not easy and it is vital that teenagers with healthcare problems are given the best treatment to address their particular needs. However, this is challenging. Children’s care (and research) tends to focus on children, and adults’ on adults, so adolescents become the ‘forgotten’ group. Access to clinical trials is also more difficult during this period of transition, and as a result there is a lack of research in this area and young people miss out on potential new treatments. There are numerous scientific research centres for Paediatric Rheumatology and Adult Rheumatology, but none for Adolescent Rheumatology. Thus this centre, focuses on scientific research as well as addressing the broad needs of adolescents with arthritis, is the first of its kind in the world.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Understanding how and why arthritis develops and progresses in this age group should lead to the discovery of new or better treatments as well as methods to prevent complications that adolescents with arthritis develop in later life (such as heart disease) and tests that may predict how the disease will progress. The Centre integrates excellent care with excellent research as teenagers travel through the journey from paediatric (child) to adult care helping to provide better long-term outcome for these patients. The Centre also helps raise awareness of the health needs of adolescents with rheumatic disease and ensures that teenagers have uninterrupted and full access to clinical trials, giving them access to the latest treatments.