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Rheumatoid Arthritis Inside Out: A Journey into the Joint and Back

Dr Alessandra Nerviani, Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London

June 13, 2022 at 15.00 CET, on YouTube and Zoom

After decades of treating rheumatoid arthritis patients with a “one size fits all” approach, we learned that using the best drug for the right patient at the correct time is possible. When rheumatoid arthritis appears, many different cells migrate to the joints and populate the synovium, a layer of tissue that covers the inside of the joint, causing inflammation, pain, swelling and, ultimately, irreversible damage.
However, the characteristics of the inflamed synovium in rheumatoid arthritis vary significantly between patients, even if their symptoms are the same!

Exploiting the biological diversity of the synovial tissue is currently the most promising approach to fulfil the ambition of stratified and precision medicine in rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, planning and delivering clinical trials in which the choice of the best drug for the right patient is guided by the specific features of the individual’s synovium is paramount to progress the research in this field and improve the outcome of patients.

But the future is even brighter, and forthcoming technologies like the “synovium-on-chip” built by the Flamingo consortium will allow testing both known and novel medications in vitro even before giving them to the patients.

Dr Alessandra Nerviani is a Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology at the Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology, William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London, since 2019. After specialising in Internal Medicine at the University of Novara (Italy) in 2013, Dr Nerviani moved to Queen Mary University of London to start her translational PhD in Experimental Rheumatology, obtained in 2017. Since then, she has been significantly contributing to the delivery of numerous observational studies and clinical trials in the field of rheumatology, including the first European synovial biopsy-driven randomised clinical trial in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Dr Nerviani is a clinician-scientist interested in the study of the pathobiology of the synovial tissue in inflammatory arthritis. She has a strong background of translational research from bench-to-bedside, has solid experience in in-vitro and in vivo pre-clinical models of arthritis, has expertise in ultrasound-guided synovial biopsies, and is an author of more than 30 publications in the field of inflammatory arthritis.