D-BOARD - Biomarkers of Osteoarthritis

The aim of the D-BOARD consortium is to bring together leading academic institutions and European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to focus on the identification, validation and qualification of new combination biomarkers and the development of diagnostic tests capable of subclinical disease diagnosis for degenerative and inflammatory diseases of joints.

Co-ordination of the D-BOARD project “Novel Diagnostics and Biomarkers for Early Identification of Chronic Inflammatory Joint Diseases” was formally transferred to the University of Surrey on 25 June 2014.

Chronic inflammatory diseases of joints are major causes of disability in the ageing population. Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common types of arthritis and a major cause of pain and disability in older individuals. OA is expected to place a heavy burden on European healthcare systems, as European citizens grow older. Cartilage damage in OA is detected radiographically by decreases in joint space width (JSW). However, radiographic evidence is seen only after significant cartilage degradation has already taken place. The early stages of the disease may remain latent and asymptomatic for many years.

The D-BOARD consortium is using high-throughput genomic tools to identify the genes that increase susceptibility to OA and genetic, epigenetic, genomic and transcriptomic strategies (WP3) to explore the gene regulatory mechanisms involved. Proteomics (WP1), metabolomics and lipidomics (WP2) are being used to identify panels of proteins, glycoproteins and lipid biomarkers that can facilitate the early diagnosis of OA in body fluids of human subjects, animal models and in vitro culture systems. Imaging and live cell tracking (WP4) are used to assess the presence, infiltration and biological contribution of inflammatory cells in animal models of experimental OA and in human OA patients.

Bioinformatics, data modelling and statistical techniques (WP5) are being used to determine the predictive power of the panels of combination biomarkers. Molecular, biochemical and immunologic approaches (WP6) are combined develop and test multiplex diagnostic and prognostic assays for combinations of cellular, protein, glycoprotein and lipid biomarkers. This approach will allow us to identify new therapeutic targets and more effective pipelines for the development of safer pharmaceuticals and other treatments for chronic and disabling forms of OA.