What is CLUSTER?
CLUSTER is a large multi-disciplinary research project being led by Professor Lucy Wedderburn (Professor and Consultant of Paediatric Rheumatology at UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital), working with teams throughout the UK.
At the moment, when a child is diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) they start medication (often on something like Methotrexate). This can be effective for many children. However, around half need to move on to different medications as methotrexate alone is not effective enough for them. At the moment, there is no way to know which medication will be most effective for a particular child before they start treatment. It can become a "trial-and-error" process as they work their way through different medications. This can take a long time, during which there is a risk that joint damage can take place and the child remain in pain.
Some children with JIA also develop uveitis (inflammation of part of the eye). At present there is no way to predict which children with JIA will develop uveitis, nor which medication will be most effective for them.
CLUSTER aims to ultimately find a way of identifying which medication will be most effective for a particular child before they start treatment. This will remove the guess work and enable them to start on the best medication straight away, giving them the best possible chance of reducing pain, and protecting against joint damage. The aim is described as ensuring the "right patient gets the right treatment at the right time."
What does CLUSTER stand for?
"Childhood arthritis and its associated uveitis: stratification through endotypes and mechanism to deliver benefit; the CLUSTER Consortium."
Which is why everyone refers to it simply as CLUSTER.
Will it find a cure for JIA?
The CLUSTER project itself is aiming to improve the targeting of medication, rather than finding a cure. However, by better understanding the factors involved we hope it will bring us a step closer to a cure.
What are CLUSTER Champions?
The CLUSTER project is keen to involve the views of children with JIA and their families as well as other key stakeholders. CLUSTER Champions will help share information from the CLUSTER project as well as gather views from families to feed into the project. Juvenile Arthritis Research founder, Richard Beesley, has been appointed as one of the first 7 CLUSTER Champions representing families across the UK.
How can I get involved?
You can find the CLUSTER website here.