Osteoarthritis continues to be one of the most common physical ailments to affect an already-ageing population, but an array of new treatments and potential arthritis therapies have been unveiled already this year. Some are still at the trial stage, while others are already being used around the world. Here are three ventures which could be worth keeping an eye on…
Stem cell research to the rescue?
The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology has announced a three-year collaboration with the American global medical technology company Anika Therapeutics, in an attempt to develop an injectable mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy for osteoarthritis treatment.
The idea that stem cell treatment could alleviate the symptoms of – and even cure – arthritis isn’t new: a 2014 trial run by the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation Trust (RJAH) in Oswestry, Shropshire and funded by Arthritis Research UK and a 2015 study conducted in Ireland produced encouraging signs in the possibility of patients’ own stem cells being able to generate joint tissue: now the medical companies are sensing a commercial breakthrough, we could see a sizeable advance in the near future.
Could a protein injection alleviate arthritis pain?
Interesting news from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California: the development of an injection designed to combat the pain of osteoarthritis.
Deploying a protein called RGGD 423 – which regenerates cartilage and reduces inflammation by communicating with a molecule, called glycoprotein 130, which is responsible for promoting cartilage development when we are mere embryos, the injectable therapy is aimed at people who are suffering from an early to a moderate level of arthritis, and experts are already speculating that if the project comes to fruition it could save the NHS up to £1 billion per year.
However, as the project enters the trial stage, side effects – including high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and even strokes – have been detected. So, don’t expect to see this on the market in the very near future.
Could South Korea lead the way on OA?
Meanwhile, in South Korea, the single-shot treatment is already a reality. The cell gene therapy treatment Invossa was approved last summer, after undergoing clinical trials over there and in the US, where it was developed by TissueGene, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Kolon Group.
Invossa is a cell-meditated gene therapy – only the fourth of its kind to have been approved anywhere around the world – and according to trials conducted in the US, 88% of patients who were treated with it reported improved symptoms for up to two years. While Invossa is entering phase 3 trials in the US, the Koreans are already planning to produce and sell it in their domestic market in the near future, before exporting it to Japan. So, while it might take a while for Invossa to reach our shores, it’ll have gone through the most rigorous trials before it does.
Currently, none of these therapies is available in the UK market but if you like to discuss your treatment options, call 0203 195 2443 to arrange a consultation with Mr Jonathan Webb.