Cristina Ruiz-Romero (SERGAS)

Molecular biomarkers as a tool for precision medicine strategies in osteoarthritis

Abstract: Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most prevalent and disabling rheumatic diseases and therefore causes a significant public health burden. Globally, cases of OA increased by 113% in the last three decades, and the prevalence of OA is expected to increase even further as the population ages and becomes more obese. Although articular cartilage degeneration has been traditionally considered the hallmark of OA, recent studies describe it as a whole-joint disorder. Importantly, there is currently no cure for this disease, and it is not possible to predict who will develop OA or how quickly it will progress. OA diagnosis is established based on clinical symptoms in combination with radiographic findings indicative of structural joint damage. Consequently, joint destruction is irreversible by the time of diagnosis. Advances in the development of early diagnostic and prognostic tools would allow for stratification of patients, and also for their prompt and personalized management. One of the most promising approaches for achieving this goal entails the discovery, validation, and qualification of non-invasive molecular biomarkers and their inclusion in combination with patient demographic and clinical information in predictive models for OA. Especially during the last two decades, proteomics and other –omics technologies have demonstrated a huge power for the discovery of molecular biomarkersin OA by allowing the deep, large-scale molecular analysis of joint tissues, cells and related biofluids.

Biosketch: Cristina Ruiz-Romero, PhD in Pharmacy, is a researcher of the Galician Health Service (SERGAS) at the Hospital Universitario of A Coruña in Spain. She heads the Proteomics Unit of the Rheumatology Research Group (GIR) at the Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de A Coruña (INIBIC), the Tissue Bioengineering and Cell Therapy Group at the Networked Research Center of Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) of the Spanish National Institute of Health, and scientific director of the Proteomics Unit of the ICTS NANBIOSIS. Dr. Ruiz-Romero is an expert on the application of “-omics” strategies, particularly proteomics, to study the pathophysiology
of rheumatic diseases. Her research is mainly focused on the search for novel protein biomarkers useful to improve the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. She is currently board member of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) and the Spanish Proteomics Society.