1. To establish and utilise a reverse translational clinical sample analysis derived from ethically obtained specimens from human patients in clinical trials for analysis (biomarkers, phenotype and transcription)
This programme of work will ensure that as much scientific and clinical insight as possible can be obtained from patients recruited to clinical trials and treated within the Centre.
Since both surgeons and scientists are involved in this project, we can learn from patients who are being treated in the clinic. No treatment is ever perfect, and some patients will always do better than others; we believe we can learn a lot by comparing those patients who do and don’t do so well and improve the techniques available. Likewise, if patients are happy for us to take samples of their blood or joint fluid (or even pieces of the ‘repaired’ cartilage) we can learn even more about the repair process and when they work best.
This programme is focussed on this approach. Two partners within the Centre involve hospitals (Oswestry and Cambridge) who are treating patients with cell therapies (e.g. in the clinical trial, ASCOT in Oswestry) and so have the opportunity to obtain samples if patients wish.
In more detail
To achieve this, state of the art technology will be used to examine patients and also the ethically approved small tissue samples taken from patients at different time points during treatment and subsequent recovery. Patients recruited in Cambridge will be imaged using a number of approaches including a second generation 7 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging facility that will provide unique insight into the morphology of the diseased or damaged joint tissue and the subsequent structural repair tissue. Advanced analytical techniques will allow in depth study of very small tissue samples and these methods will provide detailed analyses of genetic information, the genes being expressed and the proteins that are being produced. In addition, refinement of some of these techniques means that analysis can be achieved down to the level of a single cell, allowing greater insight into the breadth of cellular response that occurs during successful and not so successful joint tissue repair. The knowledge and understanding gained from these studies will feedback into the ongoing laboratory work – a process that is termed “reverse translation” which in turn will refine and inform treatment approaches.