Webinar: Development of a virtual Rheumatoid Arthritis synovial fibroblast for large-scale dynamic analysis and efficient drug-target identification

PerMedCoE webinars are open to everyone interested in PerMedCoE tools and activities. The webinars will include a 30-40 minutes presentation and a Q&A section of around 15 minutes. The recording of this webinar will be publicly available on this web page and the PerMedCoE YouTube channel.


Speakers:Dr Anna Niarakis, University of Evry Val d’Essonne and National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology (INRIA)
Date and time:Thursday 23 March 2023, 15-16 CET
Target groups:Researchers in the life sciences
Biomedical scientists
Researchers performing Boolean and/or constraint-based modelling
Learning outcomes:Describe how a virtual RA FLS model can be used to describe clinical intervention points
Describe how computational methods can simulate large-scale biological models
Watch the recording


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a complex, systemic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the lining of the synovial joints and involves an intricate interplay among genotype and environmental triggers. Early RA starts with the infiltration of the synovial compartment by leukocytes. Then, the synovial fluid is inundated with pro-inflammatory mediators inducing an inflammatory cascade characterised by fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) interactions with cells of the innate and adaptive immune system. Cytokines are key mediators, whereas drugs inhibiting these cytokines lead to RA therapies. Unfortunately, 40% of patients fail to respond to therapy.

Recently, many studies have shown that RA FLS activation and the subsequent joint damage they perpetuate are associated with an altered metabolism that may be therapeutically targetable.Thus, RA FLS-directed therapies could become a complementary approach to immune-directed therapies.

I will present our efforts to construct a virtual RA FLS and develop a computational method to simulate large-scale coupled logical and metabolic models using Boolean and constraint-based modelling. The digital RA FLS can be used to predict intervention points for minimising the sustained inflammation, bone erosion, and cartilage destruction and identify druggable metabolic switches that could help us reprogram these cells to acquire an anti-inflammatory phenotype.

About the speaker:

Dr. Anna Niarakis is an Associate Professor, HDR at UEVE, Paris-Saclay, affiliated with GenHotel, European Research Laboratory for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Genopole. She holds a 3-year delegation for research at INRIA, in the group Lifeware. She has a broad scientific background in Biochemistry, Biology, and Pharmaceutical Technology and post-doctoral studies in Computational Systems Biology & Bioinformatics with expertise in complex human diseases. She is a co-leader of the Disease Maps consortium, an active member of CoLoMoTo (Consortium for Logical Modelling Tools), and a former coordinator of SysMod (Systems Modelling).