About Ucan-U

UCAN-U(trecht) is an international platform for biological studies in childhood arthritis.

UCAN-U is the first platform of UCAN (Understanding Childhood Arthritis Network). The mission of UCAN is to enable excellent research in childhood arthritis through facilitating translational (bench-to-bedside and vice versa) biological studies.

To achieve this mission, UCAN-U aims to create an international platform for biological studies in childhood arthritis that:

  • Generates and shares materials and expertise
  • Provides an infrastructure that facilitates exchange between researchers
  • Promotes education and training in this field.


UCAN-U will bring together expertise from UCAN (including the international organizations PRES, PRINTO, PRSG, CARRA), the EU initiatives in the field of (Pharmachild, EUTRAIN and SHARE) supported by a collaborative effort of the Dutch Arthritis Association and the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMCU).

It will not re-invent the wheel, but will make use of existing expertise fro partners and from existing networks such as the Immune Tolerance Network fro NIH.

The Centre for Molecular and Cellular Intervention (CMCI) in the UMCU will host the platform. To create an optimal win-win situation it will be integrated with the Child Health Trial Center.


Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood, leading to significant morbidity and long-term disability. JIA has similarities with adult Reumatoid Arthritis (RA) as they are both autoimmune diseases that primarily affect the joints. Nevertheless, critical differences exist not only in clinical phenotype, but also in genetic susceptibility and inheritance, prognosis, and treatment response. For these reasons JIA and RA can be considered separate disease entities. Yet, to date, treatment of JIA is still based on therapies developed for RA, which, given the differences between the two diseases is highly unlikely to be optimal.

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A new approach
Thus, children with JIA undergo treatment that is not specifically developed for them and face an uncertain and unsafe future. Moreover, despite increased efforts and investments into R&D, the output of new anti-inflammatory, disease-modifying medicines is disappointing.

Altogether, this stresses the urgent need for a new approach in the care of children with JIA.

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Specific tasks UCAN-U

UCAN-U activities will be in three main fields:

  • Generating, sharing and storing of materials, protocols, ideas and expertise
  • Providing an infrastructure that supports and facilitates exchange between researchers
  • Promoting and providing training and education of professionals


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