Computational approaches in rheumatic diseases – Deciphering complex spatio-temporal cell interactions
Ciara Hegarty, Nuno Neto, Paul Cahill, Achilleas Floudas
Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
School of Biotechnology

There is currently no cure for Inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid (RA), and psoriatic (PsA) arthritis. Chronic inflammation of the synovial tissue ushers loss of function of the joint that severely impacts the patient’s quality of life, eventually leading to disability and life-threatening comorbidities. The pathogenesis of synovial inflammation is the consequence of compounded immune and stromal cell interactions influenced by genetic and environmental factors.

Deciphering the complexity of the synovial cellular landscape has accelerated primarily due to the utilisation of bulk and single cell RNA sequencing. Particularly the capacity to generate cell-cell interaction networks could reveal evidence of previously unappreciated processes leading to disease. However, there is currently a lack of universal nomenclature as a result of varied experimental and technological approaches. 

In order to provide a comprehensive approach and translate experimental data to clinical practice, a combination of clinical and molecular data with machine learning has the potential to enhance patient stratification and identify individuals at risk of arthritis that would benefit from early therapeutic intervention. This DCU research collaboration aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effect of computational approaches in deciphering synovial inflammation pathogenesis and discuss the impact that further experimental and novel computational tools may have on therapeutic target identification and drug development.