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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Professor Francesco Dell'Accio


Professor of Musculoskeletal Regenerative Medicine & Rheumatology

Centre: Experimental Medicine & Rheumatology

Telephone: +44(0) 20 7882 8204
Twitter: @TheReGenLab


ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4137-3770

Professor Dell’Accio is a clinical rheumatologist and a scientist whose interest is focused on regenerative medicine and osteoarthritis. He characterized the molecular cascade activated by injury to the articular cartilage and, starting from this screening, has identified several therapeutic targets that, in animal models, result in disease modification in osteoarthritis and in cartilage regeneration. The ultimate goal of his research is to develop pharmacological interventions to restore cartilage integrity and reduce pain in osteoarthritis and cartilage defects.


Group members

Senior members: Prof Shafaq Sikandar (Senior Lecturer); Dr Suzanne Eldridge (Lecturer) 

Junior members: Dr Anne-Sophie Thorup; Dr Magdalena Kaneva; Mr Jacob Wilson (Technician); Dr Manasi Sayilakshmy (Research Assistant); Dr Sara Caxaria (post-doc); Ms Petek Celik, (Research Assistant); Dr Alice Fuller, (Post-doc).

PhD students: Ms Aida Barawi (PhD student); Ms Sabah Bharde (PhD student); Ms Melody Deniz (PhD student); Dr Brian Herath (Clinical PhD Fellow)

Alumni: Dr Suzanne Eldridge; Dr Noha Eltawil; Dr Giovanna Nalesso; Professor Jessica Bertrand; Dr Joanna Sherwood; Dr Bethan Thomas; Dr Blandine Poulet


Professor Dell’Accio and his group investigate the molecular mechanisms that underpin the healing of skeletal tissues, and in particular to cartilage, with the ultimate aim of identifying possible therapeutic intervention to promote cartilage healing/supporting cartilage homeostasis in diseases such as isolated cartilage defects and osteoarthritis. Professor Dell’Accio’s group identified a distinct signalling response of adult human articular cartilage to mechanical injury. Individual signalling molecules and pathways identified by this screening are being tested in vitro and in vivo for their function in cartilage biology and joint surface repair.  In vivo models include surgical models of osteoarthritis and cartilage injury/regeneration developed in our laboratory. He is now exploring the biological function of such mechanisms for cartilage homeostasis how we can exploit them to protect cartilage from degradation in arthritis. Working in close collaboration with Dr S Sikandar, he is exploring the mechanisms of pain in osteoarthritis.

Key Publications

Full list of publications

  1. Thomas BL*, Eldridge SE*, Nosrati B, Alvarez M, Thorup A-S et al. WNT3A‐loaded exosomes enable cartilage repair. J Extracell Vesicles. 2021;10(7):e12088. doi:10.1002/jev2.12088
  2. Nalesso G, Thorup A-S, Eldridge SE, et al. Calcium calmodulin kinase II activity is required for cartilage homeostasis in osteoarthritis. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):1-11. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-82067-w
  3. Thorup A-S, Strachan D, Caxaria S, et al. ROR2 blockade as a therapy for osteoarthritis. Sci Transl Med. 2020;12(561):eaax3063
  4. Eldridge SE, Barawi A, Wang H, Roelofs AJ, Kaneva M, Guan Z, Lydon H, Thomas BL, Thorup, A-S et al. Agrin induces long-term osteochondral regeneration by supporting repair morphogenesis. Sci Transl Med. 2020;12(559):eaax9086. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aax9086
  5. Nalesso G, Thomas BL, Sherwood JC, Yu J, Addimanda O, Eldridge SE, Thorup A-S et al. WNT16 antagonises excessive canonical WNT activation and protects cartilage in osteoarthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2017;76(1):218-226. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208577
  6. Eldridge S, Nalesso G, Ismail H, Vicente-Greco K, Kabouridis P, Ramachandran M, Niemeier A, Herz J, Pitzalis C, Perretti M, Dell'Accio F. Agrin mediates chondrocyte homoeostasis and requires both LRP4 and α-dystroglycan to enhance cartilage formation in vitro and in vivo. Ann Rheum Dis. 2016 Jun;75(6):1228-35. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-207316
  7. Sherwood J, Bertrand J, Nalesso G, Poulet B, Pitsillides A, Brandolini L, Karystinou A, De Bari C, Luyten FP, Pitzalis C, Pap T, Dell'Accio F. A homeostatic function of CXCR2 signalling in articular cartilage. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015 Dec;74(12):2207-15. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-205546.



Dr Michele BombardieriProfessor Mauro Perretti; Dr Panos Kabouridis


Dr Tonia Vincent (Oxford); Dr George Bou-Gharios (Oxford); Professor Thomas Pap (Muenster, Germany); Professor Georg Schett (Erlangen, Germany); Professor Cosimo De Bari (Aberdeen); Professor Andrew McMahon (Harvard, US)

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