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Southampton Musculoskeletal Research Unit

Muscle, bone and joint conditions and injuries affect the lives of millions of people. We combine clinical services with research to better prevent and treat them.

Led by Professor Christopher Edwards and Professor Maria Stokes, the unit work closely with the hospital rheumatology department and Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre. It has been recognised by the European League Against Rheumatism as a centre of excellence in musculoskeletal care and research.

Long-term research into chronic diseases

Our researchers at the unit are investigating long-term chronic musculoskeletal diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

They are doing this through long-term monitoring of large numbers of people. By doing so, they intend to find better ways of managing and treating these conditions.

This research builds on decades-long work with women and families in Southampton, spanning many generations, conducted by our MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre.

Inflammatory conditions

Inflammatory musculoskeletal conditions can affect people of all ages. They include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus and ankylosing spondylitis.

These conditions can make simple tasks like combing hair or making coffee unbearably painful and difficult.

Our rheumatology experts are searching for new targets for immunotherapies. They are also developing ways of tailoring treatments and drug doses to each individual's biology and disease stage.

Exercise, sport and osteoarthritis

We work with elite athletes, teams and organisations on our research into exercise and osteoarthritis.

Together, we aim to understand injuries better and use this to improve rehabilitation. Through studying sport and exercise, we aim to understand how injuries arise, how they affect movement and find ways to prevent them.

We also conduct research into osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis in the UK. This includes studies to improve treatments, as well as developing tools to predict and prevent the condition.

Tissue regeneration

We're harnessing stem cells to repair and rebuild tissue lost through injury or disease.

Using the latest advances in nanotechnology and cell biology, we're developing a scaffold for the patients’ own bone stem cells to grow on.

Musculoskeletal health is of great importance, due to the large numbers of people it affects and the life-changing consequences of bone and joint degeneration and inflammation. Despite the challenges, there has been enormous progress in developing new therapies, particularly in the field of immunomodulatory treatments for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.