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15 February 2012

Health Care

Southend University Hospital consultant, Prof Bhaskar Dasgupta, is breaking new ground by having landmark scientific research published simultaneously in three prestigious international medical journals.

Prof Dasgupta, a consultant rheumatologist and world expert in the diseases polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and giant cell arteritis (GCA), collaborated with the giant Mayo clinic in theUnited Statesto produce definitive classification criteria for PMR, an inflammatory condition which causes severe pain and stiffness in the muscles as well as inflammation and swelling of soft tissues.

The international research, led bySouthendUniversityHospital, will be published in the April editions of the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, Arthritis and Rheumatism and the Journal of Rheumatology, which circulate in Europe, theUnited StatesandCanada.

Prof Dasgupta, who is clinical director of research and audit at the hospital, said: "These are the most influential and respected rheumatology journals in the world.

"The work has been going on internationally in 23 centres for the last six years, funded by the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and theAmericanCollegeof Rheumatology (ACR).

"As well as classification criteria to avoid mis-diagnosis, we have produced a second paper on how to assess PMR using patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS).

"We looked at 179 cases across the world and another 240 controls.

"The objective was to find out what distinguishes PMR from other conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, other forms of inflammatory disease and even cancer.

"PMR has been recognised as a condition for many years but research has only just started. We are spearheading it here atSouthendUniversityHospitaland as a result it has now become an international topic."

The classification criteria will enable clinicians to conduct proper clinical trials in the disease, he added. "Now we have the methodology, we have the necessary building blocks for the future."

SouthendUniversityHospital, which has close academic ties with both Anglia Ruskin andEssexUniversities, is rapidly making a name for itself in the amount of research and clinical trials it is involved in. These include specialties including stroke, ophthalmology, critical care, oncology, paediatrics and renal medicine.