Rheumatoid arthritis

Dr Adrian Achuthan : is CCL17 a new target in rheumatoid arthritis?

Tuesday, 28 Aug 2018



Your latest research finds that interleukin-4 induces the chemokine C-C motif ligand 17 (CCL17) in human monocytes. What did we already know about CCL17?

CCL17 was originally identified for its function in recruiting immune cells. We are very excited in demonstrating its novel inflammatory functions in arthritic pain and disease.

How does this help us better understand the inflammatory process in rheumatoid arthritis?

We were able to show how CCL17 is regulated at the molecular level and demonstrated its key inflammatory functions in arthritis models. These key findings provide insights into the inflammatory processes in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

You’ve already done some work with CCL17 in pain. What then is the potential for an anti-CCL17 therapy in rheumatoid arthritis?

Indeed, we have done some anti-CCL17 therapy in inflammatory arthritis animal models and have found that neutralising CCL17 functions ameliorates arthritic pain and disease. This finding demonstrates great potential for future anti-CCL17 therapy in rheumatoid arthritis.

What aspect of this research excites you the most?

Research is often driven by a yearning to know the unknown. When you stumble on something promising and you are not yet sure how it will all pan out to be, that tantalising prospect of success often keeps me going.

What is the next question to answer in this line of research?

We will need to embark on clinical trials to see whether what we have found in the inflammatory arthritis animal models will translate to be an effective therapy for rheumatoid arthritis in humans.

How long before your work might impact patient care?

It ultimately depends on the extent and duration of the clinical trials. A fair guess could be say 5-10 years.

What’s your Holy Grail – the one thing you’d like to achieve in your research career?

Arthritis is a truly debilitating illness that affects millions across the globe. Currently, there is no treatment to eliminate it or totally cure it, but achieving effective management with the least harmful side effects would be both professionally and personally rewarding.

What is your biggest research hurdle?

Sadly, not just for me, but for all the scientific researchers, research funding uncertainty is a huge hurdle. It can be very challenging and even demoralising at times. Positive mentoring and peer support is key in dealing with this ongoing challenge.

Do you have a favourite immune cell or cytokine – or would that be weird?

Not really- but if I have to make a pick, I will nominate macrophages!

Who has inspired you in work or life?

My parents were a major formative influence in my career. They encouraged my curiosity with things and willingness to challenge assumptions from a young age. They also encouraged my active interest in sports and literature which helped me to become lot more well-rounded I think.

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