General project information
RTCure (Rheuma Tolerance for Cure) is a large, pan-European collaborative initiative funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). IMI is the world's biggest public-private partnership (PPP) in the life sciences. It is a partnership between the European Union and the the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
RTCure consists of 20 partners from academical institutions, pharmaceutical companies and small-medium enterprises (SMEs), who have teamed up, together with patient research partners, to work towards earlier detection and prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
The overarching aim of our project is to prevent RA or its progression by inhibiting the expansion of pathogenic autoimmune responses through immune tolerising treatments in subjects at the earliest stage of their disease, and to develop tools for monitoring of immune tolerance.
Clinicians and researchers have quite a good grasp of how an over-active immune system causes inflammation in RA, but relatively poor understanding of how the immune system becomes over-active in the first place. While we are getting better at measuring and treating the symptoms, we are not that good at identifying and treating the underlying cause. Until we can identify what causes the disease to develop we are unable to cure RA. Therein lies the problem and the challenge.
In RTCure, we aim to tackle this problem head-on. We plan to make careful measurements of the immune system in the earliest stages of RA, including individuals who are at risk but who have not yet developed RA. This should give us an understanding of the earliest events in disease development at the cellular level of individual immune cells, potentially highlighting new treatments and strategies for preventing RA. Based on our observations we hope to conduct trials of new therapies which, rather than simply dampening inflammation in established disease, will alter the fundamental immune processes that cause the disease in the first place.
Each of the partners in the RTCure consortium has their own unique specialist skills, such as state-of-the-art technologies to measure the immune system in new ways amongst large groups of patients. Their advanced computational techniques will be essential in analysing the produced data. Other partners have particular expertise in measuring the immune system and trying out new treatments in patient volunteers. In addition to the academic institutes and pharmaceutical companies, patient research partners play a very important role in the consortium. Involving patient research partners has a significant impact on translational research. By having patients as equal partners in all work packages, we improve both the methodology and outcomes of our research. We also gain invaluable additional insights to our different research questions.
The potential impact of RTCure on the prevention and therapy of RA is significant. Tolerising therapies have the potential to reset the part of the immune system that induce the disease earlier than today’s existing therapies. If successful, the type of therapy that the RTCure project is aiming to develop, may completely change today’s management of RA worldwide, by inducing drug-free remission (no symptoms of disease) and removing the need for lifelong treatments for many patients.