Laidlaw Undergraduate Research and Leadership Programme

Sophie Lawlor has just completed a research internship (summer 2020) in the Molecular Rheumatology unit, under the supervision of Prof Ursula Fearon and Dr Megan Hanlon. Sophie was awarded a prestigious Laidlaw Undergraduate Research Scholarship to perform her research. The Laidlaw Leadership Programme is an innovative scholarship designed to support talented and motivated undergraduate students from… Read More

Distinct Endothelial cell transcriptional regulation and function

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis are two of the most common forms of Inflammatory arthritis. While both are associated with synovial inflammation and subsequent cartilage/bone destruction, the mechanisms involved are different. A number of studies have demonstrated distinct differences in the macroscopic and microscopic analysis of RA and PsA, with particular reference to the distinct… Read More

Distinct pathogenic mechanisms in Downs Arthritis and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Down’s syndrome (DS) is a chromosomal disorder caused by an extra chromosome 21.  Immune dysregulation predisposes children with DS to high incidences of autoimmune diseases. DA is an inflammatory joint condition affecting children with DS, which is under-recognised, has a delayed diagnosis, resulting in chronic disability. Our clinical research showed an increased risk of arthritis… Read More

Down Syndrome-Related Arthritis

This study is investigating the Immunology and Histopathology of Inflammatory Arthritis in Children with Down syndrome. Approximately 110 babies with Down syndrome are born in Ireland each year, making Ireland’s birth rate of children with Down syndrome the highest in Europe. A variety of medical conditions and immunological abnormalities are associated with Down syndrome. Immune… Read More

Personalised Medicine Strategy to Predict Drug Choice, Improve Efficacy and Outcome

Inflammatory Arthritis is a common autoimmune disease which causes joint tissue destruction, work instability due to disability and ultimately premature mortality. In addition, IA reduces mobility, increases social isolation and is significantly associated with obesity and diabetes. Targeted biotherapeutics have a major effect on the outcome of IA, however responses may be sub-optimal or associated… Read More

Pre-Clinical Proof of Concept Studies with Industry Partners

Molecular Rheumatology (TCD) and The Centre for Arthritis and Rheumatic diseases (SVUH, UCD) have developed a number of industry partnerships around drug discovery and translational research. These studies utilize the ex vivo whole tissue synovial explant model, sorted synovial cells and multiplex protein assays, transcriptomics and a systems biology approach to establish pre-clinical drug development… Read More

Molecular Mechanisms of Synovial Invasion and Articular Cartilage Damage

Angiogenesis is an early event in arthritis, dependent on endothelial cell (EC) mitosis, migration, and organisation of primitive angiotubes.  In arthritis, the new vessel network and leukocyte extravasation transforms synovial tissue (ST) into an aggressive tumor-like ‘pannus’ mediating cartilage destruction. We have previously shown that distinct vascular morphologic phenotypes exist between different arthropathies, effects that… Read More

Arthritis Research Coalition Biobank

Our group are involved with the Arthritis Research Coalition Biobank, the primary aim of which is to recruit patients with common rheumatic diseases and obtain biosamples that will underpin clinical research. A secondary aim is to increase national involvement in clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents.

DC and T cell Characterisation and Function at Site of Inflammation

Dendritic cells are a heterogeneous group of antigen presenting cells that link the innate and adaptive immune system. Due to their unique role in controlling naïve T cell responses, DC and subsequent T cell responses are hypothesised to be involved in the pathogenesis of RA and PsA. Indeed, the strongest evidence to suggest that DC… Read More

 MicroRNA and  Psoriatic Arthritis     

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterised by synovial inflammation and progressive destruction of articular cartilage and bone, with significant impact on quality of life. While advances in therapies have dramatically improved prognosis, a significant proportion of patients do not respond, have sub-optimally responses or experience adverse events. Hence, a greater understanding of… Read More

Autoantibodies and Disease Pathogenesis

RA disability stems from structural damage of cartilage and bone due to erosions in synovial joints, if not treated early and aggressively. Treatment guidelines are based on clinical factors and rheumatoid factor (RF), and more recently presence of the autoantibodies anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA) which may provide improved prediction of outcome in RA. The association… Read More

Hypoxia, Metabolism and Inflammatory Arthritis

Mitochondrial respiration is the main source of metabolic energy in cells by generating adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) in an oxygen-dependent manner. Environmental cues such as the availability of nutrients and oxygen are sensed by mTOR, AMPK and HIF-1α together with inflammatory cell activation signals to determine the outcome of cell activation and differentiation. We have previously demonstrated… Read More

To identify molecular signatures in monocyte/macrophages that can predict disease onset in ‘at-risk ACPA+’ individuals and disease progression in RA

Recent research has focused on people ‘at-risk’ of RA with circulating autoantibodies (ACPA/RF) but no clinical signs of RA currently.  These subjects may provide important clues in understanding the evolution of RA. Identifying those ‘at-risk’ remains problematic, with no good blood or tissue biomarkers identified to date. However, we and others, have demonstrated that circulating… Read More