Patient Care Bio
Dr. Ritchlin's basic science research efforts are directed towards understanding the mechanisms that underlie pathologic bone resorption and new bone formation in psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Using a translational approach, investigators in his lab are analyzing the cell surface molecules expressed by osteoclast and dendritic cell precursors with the goal to identify susceptibility and response biomarkers in patients with inflammatory arthritis. The lab is also studying the effect of anti-TNF agents on dendritic cell differentiation in RA and PsA patients. In addition, collaborative studies are underway with the lab of Dr. Eddie Schwarz to understand the mechanisms that are responsible for bone marrow edema as recorded on magnetic resonance imaging scans in inflammatory arthritis. The bulk of this work is performed in animal models but insights gained from these studies are applied to the study of human joint diseases such as psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Ritchlin is also the Director of the Clinical Immunology Research Unit where he is the principle investigator on several clinical trials testing the efficacy of anti-TNF agents and other biologic molecules in the treatment of psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. In the Clinical Immunology Research Unit, patient oriented research is conducted on multiple levels. Investigator New Drug (IND) trials of novel agents (adalimumab, rituximab) in the treatment of PsA and AS have been completed or are about to start. Additional trials have been performed to study the effect of TNF inhibition on the frequency of osteoclast precursors and enhancing bone marrow edema in PsA. The Unit also conducts multicenter trials with novel biologic agents such as rituximab and abatacept in PsA with special attention directed towards understanding how these agents alter bone remodeling in these disorders. Additional studies underway include microanalysis assays of synovium, skin and intestinal tissues in patients with Immune Mediated Inflammatory Disroders (IMIDs) before and after TNF inhibition. Future plans include the development of ultrasound outcome measures in collaboration with Dr. Ralf Thiele and Dr. Darren Tabechian, to assess synovial, lymph node and periarticular tissue responses to different therapies in inflammatory arthritis.