New injection could offer hope to millions of arthritis sufferersMolecule found to encourage cartilage regeneration
Could form the basis of new drug-based therapy
10:14 GMT, 6 April 2012
An injection could help cure the crippling symptoms of arthritis, say scientists.
A study found that a molecule, called kartogenin, encourages damaged cartilage to regenerate.
It is now hoped that the substance could form the basis of a new drug-based therapy, targeting the degenerative joint and bone disease which causes cartilage to wear away.
In the UK, arthritis affects over 9 million people, the most common forms being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Main symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness and restricted movement in the joints, and in the UK it affects more than 9 million people.
Currently these is no cure for the condition, only anti-inflammatory painkillers to relieve symptoms, and in severe cases, costly joint replacements are advised.
Commenting on the latest study researchers at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego and Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California said: 'This may ultimately lead to a stem-cell based therapy for osteoarthritis.'
It is thought that kartogenin would be administered via injection to the areas affected (stock picture)
While Dr Kristen Johnson, added: 'We’re excited about the biology because it’s a new way of targeting the stem cells.'
During the study, published in the journal Science, 22,000 drug-like molecules were tested using a robotic screen, applying each one to bone marrow stem cells.
When kartogenin was administered to mice with osteoarthritis-like symptoms, it prompted stem cells to change into cartilage cells.
A patent has already been filed, however more work is needed to understand exactly how the molecule works.
Judith Brodie, chief executive of Arthritis Care, told The Express: 'We welcome what looks like it could be a very promising development for people with osteoarthritis, however we would want to emphasise that this is very early stage research and it is likely to be some years before any treatments are developed.'
The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Around eight million people in Britain suffer from osteoarthritis and 140,000 hip and knee replacements are performed on the NHS as a result of the illness, at a cost of more than 1 billion.