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New drugs in development for treatment of osteoarthritis

24 May 2013

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Medical research charity Arthritis Research UK has awarded a team of researchers at Cardiff University a grant of £200,000 to investigate new drugs to treat early onset osteoarthritis. The team will investigate a new therapy to reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

One in six people are affected by osteoarthritis in the UK, a painful and debilitating disease that causes irreversible damage to people's cartilage and bones. The disease occurs when the cartilage 'cushion' between the bones of the joint gradually erodes, leading to rubbing of bone on bone. The most commonly affected joints are knees, hips, spine and hands.

Current treatment for people with osteoarthritis is limited to painkillers and joint replacement surgery. There is no cure or preventive treatment although age, obesity and joint injury are known risk factors.

The Arthritis Research UK-funded team, led by Dr Deborah Mason of the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, will look at whether a molecule, found in the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, causes swelling, joint damage and pain.

The researchers' previous work, funded by the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, has shown that drugs can stop the effects of the molecule in animal models with inflammatory arthritis and thereby reduce pain, swelling and joint damage. It's hoped the team's results may identify new potential drugs to effectively treat early osteoarthritis.

The team at the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre investigates interactions between joint mechanics and biology to discover new combined surgical, rehabilitation and pharmaceutical approaches to arthritis treatment.

Dr Mason said: "We're delighted to receive this generous grant from Arthritis Research UK. It will enable our team to better understand how to treat early onset osteoarthritis."

Medical director of Arthritis Research UK, Professor Alan Silman added, "Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis with an estimated 8.5 million people affected in the UK alone yet there are still no effective treatments available and no cure.

"This exciting research project from Cardiff University moves us one step closer to offering hope to the many people living with this painful and disabling condition."