Appointment of Raimón Sanmartí, Group leader
Research in the field of chronic arthritis is fascinating as well as a major personal and team challenge

Current research

Problem

The various forms of chronic arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and, more frequently, spondylarthritis) affect nearly 2% of the population. They have a major social and health impact, due to the incapacity and loss of quality of life that they can cause.

Although there are currently no effective treatments that cure them, in recent years the mechanisms that cause inflammation and the destruction of the joints have become better known, and new drugs and therapeutic targets have been developed. However, not all patients respond favourably, so the challenge remains: new treatments and new biomarkers need to be developed to be able to treat each person with the most appropriate therapy.

Approach

This research group aims to increase its knowledge of the different prognostic factors that can determine a better evolution of arthritis and which treatment can be most effective for each patient. It studies biomarkers present in the blood of patients with arthritis at the initial stages of the disease (especially autoantibodies) and is a pioneer in the field of immunopathological study of the synovial membrane in different forms of arthritis, including those that do not have an initial diagnosis, in order to improve the diagnostic and prognostic process. The group also participates in strategic studies working towards the advancement of personalised medicine.

Impact

The group’s objectives are to improve the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, gain insight into the immune mechanisms involved, and identify biomarkers that could help to obtain a personalised therapy.

To do this, research is carried out in collaboration with other European groups. It is making advances in identifying individuals at risk of rheumatoid arthritis with a view to conducting clinical trials for therapies that regulate the adaptive immune response and thus prevent the onset of the disease.