Research reveals promising novel treatment for osteoarthritis


Researchers from the University of Manchester and Link Biologics have revealed preclinical data on a potential new treatment for osteoarthritis.

The results were published in a paper in journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, which describes the development of a protein biological drug termed Link_TSG6 with disease modifying properties.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of joint disease, affecting more than 250 million people worldwide and representing a major and growing cause of long-term disability.

Despite a high burden of disease there are no approved disease-modifying OA drugs (DMOAD) and current strategies for pain relief are inadequate.

The study explored the role of the human TSG-6 protein in OA, and evaluated the disease modifying potential of Link_TSG6 (a fragment derived from the TSG-6 protein) in cell, rodent and human cartilage explant models of OA.

Results from the study showed that Link_TSG6 suppresses the production of enzymes implicated in cartilage damage – a hallmark of OA. Furthermore, administration of Link_TSG6 reduced cartilage breakdown, underpinning its potential as a DMOAD. It also reduced touch-evoked pain behaviour supporting a possible analgesic effect.

Caroline Aylott, Head of Research Delivery at charity Versus Arthritis, who co-funded the research, said: “There is a critical need for treatments that slow down the progression of osteoarthritis to delay or avoid joint replacement surgery and to reduce the pain that so many experience. The data is promising and whilst the research is in its early stages, it shows that Link_TSG6 has the potential to offer a new class of disease modifying drugs to treat osteoarthritis.”

Compelling preclinical data

The study revealed that Link_TSG6 mimics the intrinsic anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective properties of the full-length TSG-6 protein, as well as having greater potency.

In addition, it was found that a substantial proportion of cartilage explants from OA donors undergoing knee-replacement surgery were responsive to Link_TSG6 treatment suggesting that this protein biologic may have therapeutic utility for a large number of OA patients.

“This study has identified a potential new treatment for OA with disease modifying and analgesic properties,” said Professor Tony Day, a co-corresponding author, from the Wellcome Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, University of Manchester, and Chief Scientific Officer of Link Biologics. “It is extremely rewarding to obtain such compelling preclinical data and we intend to progress this work by advancing Link_TSG6 towards human clinical trials over the next few years.”

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