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Regulation of the tissue degradation in osteoarthritis

Project Description

Research Group: Biomedical Research Group

Proposed supervisory team:
Dr Joseph Bird (),
Dr Peter Coussons (),
Dr Felicity Savage ()

Theme: Cardiovascular, Connective tissue, Translational Biomedicine

Summary of the research project

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most frequent of the arthritides with an incidence of 1 in 10 in those over 60 years of age. The disease is typified by the degradation and chronic loss of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis beyond pain relief and joint replacement. Hyaline cartilage functions by providing both low friction surfaces in the joint and impact absorbance during locomotion. Chondrocytes are the principal cell type of hyaline cartilage and produce the extracellular matrix (ECM) which, provides the tissue with the capacity to resist mechanical load. The progression of the disease is characterised by an irreversible loss of the tissue and by chondrocyte cell death.

Osteoarthritis is linked most frequently to the “wear and tear” processes accompanying a lifetime of joint use and episodic joint inflammation. This project will investigate novel mechanisms involved in cartilage degradation and in particular, the intracellular signalling pathways, which regulate the degradative processes.

Main goal

This project will investigate the mechanisms by which cartilage is induced to degrade, using cell culture models. The main objectives are to:

1. Investigate the signalling pathways involved in regulating cartilage degradation and chondrocyte homeostasis
2. Investigate the regulation of proteases involved in cartilage degradation by these signalling pathways.

Research methods will include tissue and cell culture studies, and biochemical assays including Western blotting, ELISA, zymography and qPCR analysis.


The expected outcome is an improved understanding of the signalling mechanisms involved in cartilage degradation, which may identify future therapeutic targets for reducing the degradation of cartilage in the arthritides.

Where you’ll study

Cambridge (

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Biomedical Science PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Funding Notes

This project is self-funded.
Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website (View Website) as they become available.

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