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An initial Network Focus Meeting (15th-16th May 2017) allowed Theme Leaders to submit proposals for activities and projects. After focused revisions and the addition of timelines and costings, a Research Forum Meeting was held in February 2018 to present the final proposals, where decisions for funded activities were made. Updates from these activities and research projects are posted below with their relevant outputs and links to relevant Project Leaders. Examples include: Research feasibility studies, pump priming projects, sandpit meetings, sandpit projects, subject specific focus meetings, development of consensus statements, hackathons, work placements and engagement events. Please contact Prof Cathy Holt or Dr Rebecca Hamilton for further information.

Awarded Research Projects
Funded feasibility research projects

Projects awarded up to 50K across themes for data analysis, clinical applications, lifestyle interventions, impact toolkit and imaging research.

Dr Mark Elliott – OA Datasets Scoping Project based at University of Warwick. An interview-based scoping review of the opportunities and barriers of data sharing within OA. A project report has been completed and a paper for publication is in pre-print.

Prof Nidhi Sofat – Developing tools for Patient Stratification in OA based at St George’s University of London. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk factors for pain and functional impairment for people with knee and hip OA as a published paper.

Prof Richard Jones – The role of technology and lifestyle interventions in osteoarthritis based at the University of Salford. This report will contain OA specific lifestyle interventions as well as healthy individual interventions (but studied for potential effect in OA) and papers will be targeted to separate journals for specific impact.

Prof Debbie Mason and Prof Alison McGregor – Systematic review to define the higher level evidence in osteoarthritis research that can be used to develop an impact toolkit based at Cardiff University and Imperial College London. Two study papers are underway from this project on the communication of higher level evidence in OA and the impact of this in OA research with the development of an impact toolkit to quality score OA studies.

Prof Cathy Holt and Dr David Williams – Development of standard protocols for In-vivo imaging based at Cardiff University. Bi-plane X-ray protocols with pipelines and model-based image registrations are now in place at Cardiff University. This is producing pilot data that will generate information for funding proposals to advance OA imaging and biomechanics research.

Prof Cathy Holt – A scoping review of remote biomechanical data collection and available technology based at Cardiff University. A response to the Covid-19 pandemic events in 2020 leading to the need to review and develop available remote technology for reliable human data collection.

Awarded Pump Priming Projects
biomechanics and mechanobiology theme

This research theme led by Prof Martin Knight received 12 applications for pump priming project funding. After applications went through a peer-review process, 8 projects were awarded up to 10K funding.

Project No. 3: Determining 3D kinematics of the talus during normal walking using video fluoroscopy: A pilot study. Claire Brockett

Project No. 4: Micromechanics in Cartilage Matrix: a new Perspective on Functionality. Junning Chen

Project No. 5: Supine versus upright MRI: comparison of tissue in normal and OA knees. Philip Conaghan

Project No. 7: Mechanical stimulation re-sets the biological clock within cartilage to align to diurnal patterns in activity. David Lee

Project No. 9: Hedgehog signalling in ligamentocytes: the role of mechanical loading. Project report available below. Mandy Peffers

Project No. 10: Using 3D Trabecular Architecture as a Biomarker to Identify and Monitor Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Paper pre-print for research method developed, along with CT scans and github code used available below. Andrew Pitsillides and Eva Herbst.

Project No. 11. Development of a synovium-chondrocyte organ-on-a-chip model with integrated biomechanical stimulation. Hazel Screen

Project No. 12: Effect of obesity on the mechanical properties of end stage osteoarthritic bone at multiple length scales. Robert Wallace

Technology and OA Subcategorisation Focus Meeting
Novel and experimental Technology Theme

A Focus Meeting was held at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry as part of the OATech+ Network programme of events (30th April – 1st May 2018) to explore OA stratification from a multi-disciplinary approach. A Delphi study was incorporated into the meeting and a further meeting was organised to prepare and present the findings as a consensus paper.

The results of this meeting have been published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal, ‘The use of technology in the subcategorisation of osteoarthritis‘ (Mennan et al., 2020), summarising the technologies that can be adopted for subcategorisation in OA. For more information on these results, please contact Prof Sally Roberts. 

Sandpit Meeting Awards
Novel and experimental Technology Theme

A two-day sandpit was held on the 19th-20th November 2018 in Oswestry. After 8 project proposals were presented, 2 awards up to 15K were made after submission of full project proposals and costings.

An award was made to the MRI Fans group (Dr David Williams et al) for a project entitled ‘Development of a quantitative MRI phantom for knee tissue’.

An award was also made to the ‘We don’t care how much it hurts (but we do care about nociception)‘ group (Prof Debbie Mason and Dr David Hamilton) to explore the use of sensors as objective measures of nociception.

Both these projects were due to commence in February 2020 and have undergone delays due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They have been extended and are currently ongoing.

OA Clinical Stratification Focus Meeting
clinical application theme

A one-day focus meeting was held at St George’s University of London to discuss OA stratification, and the work undertaken in the “Developing Tools for Patient Stratification in Osteoarthritis” project led by Prof Nidhi Sofat. Notes from the meeting can be found here.

This focus meeting helped to define the research questions for the project and has now been completed and published as systematic review and meta-analysis. This has been published in the BMJ Open, ‘Risk factors for pain and functional impairment in people with knee and hip osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ (Sandhar et al., 2020).

OA Digital Health Collaboration
clinical application theme

Following the Research Feasibility Project and paper publication for OA stratification, a collaboration has been formulated with Ampersand Health (https://ampersandhealth.co.uk/), a digital health monitoring company for arthritis patients and clinicians. Using the model from the rheumatoid arthritis management digital application and the results from the feasibility study, the outlines of a pilot project has emerged for OA. Contacts who may be interested in piloting the application with OA patients have been made and expected to grow further. The pilot will look at both disease management and digital therapeutic options as well as a data gathering tool for integration of osteoarthritis data.

Alan Turing Institute Collaboration
Data analysis technology theme

After a funding call for data sets and application challenges, a half-day meeting (14th January 2019) was held to discuss sharing of biomechanical data sets across institutions. The OATech+ Network submitted an expression of interest to the Alan Turing Institute (www.turing.ac.uk) to participate in one of their Data Study Events. These events are similar to a ‘hackathon’ in that organisations are invited to provide large datasets and a ‘challenge’ to the ATI. Data Scientists (approx. 20) spend 5-days working on the challenge to develop a data driven solution. Following from feedback from the application, a more formal collaboration to initiate a research project has been formulated.

Following from the completion of the OA Dataset Scoping Project led by Dr Mark Elliot, a collaborating research project between the ATI and the OATech+ Network has developed. This project plans to integrate OA biomechanics data into a repository and work alongside data scientists to analyse biomechanical markers within OA disease progression as a predictive modelling tool.

Modelathon
modelling technology and ECR theme

Collaborating with MultiSim (multisim-insigneo.org) and the University of Sheffield, a four-day training event was held for early stage and early career researchers in Computation Medicine and related fields. Based on the similar concept of a ‘hackathon’, this event used computational models and simulations to address authentic research questions. The theme of this modelathon was, ‘the optimisation of interventions for osteoarthritis patients with multi-scale modelling’. Day 1 introduced the research field challenges with presentations from Prof Cathy Holt, Prof Claudia Mazza, Prof Richie Gill, Prof Andrew Pitsillides and Dr Shannon Li. After two days of focussing on modelling challenges, the teams presented their findings and were awarded a prize. No publications resulted as this was a training event, however a full report and website article have been provided.


Downloads

Sandpit Meeting
Alignment of discovery science to OA human disease

After a preliminary meeting held alongside BORS 2020, OA research development gaps were identified themes were identified (pain, OA definitions and subgrouping, clinical trials) and used as theme groups for the sandpit led by Prof Debbie Mason and Prof Andy Pitsillides. An online two-day sandpit meeting was held on 26th-27th November 2020 to use interdisciplinary research discussions to address these gaps. After idea generation, presentations and group feedback, a follow up meeting was held in January 2021 to progress these ideas further. Several grant proposal drafts have been identified and currently in refining process.

ECR Work Placements
Next generation of OATech leaders theme

The following ECR work placements were awarded up to 3K to support work from 1 week to 3 months for ECRs to further their career opportunities.

December 2018. A funded placement award was made to Jake Bowd. Jake undertook a month-long work placement at KU Leuven in the Summer of 2019.

March 2019. An award was made to Eva Herbst. Eva undertook a placement with Prof Andrew Pitsillides at RVC from October 2019.

May 2019. Alex Sehgal was awarded a funded placement with Prof Cathy Holt, Cardiff University, which was undertaken in May-June 2019.

August 2020. Humaira Mahmood was awarded a funded placement with Prof Prof Andrew Pitsillides, RVC and Prof Philip Rowe, University of Strathclyde. This was undertaken between August – October 2020.

For further information on opportunities visit the page below or contact theme lead Prof Jim Richards:

ECR Opportunities Page
Other Placement Opportunities

January 2020. Dr David Lunn, a research fellow from the University of Leeds, gives his feedback on his opportunity to attend a modelathon in this report. 

November 2018. Dr Ben Sherlock secured funding to visit Prof. Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong, Australia. Ben undertook his visit in February 2019. Click on the link to read Ben’s report.