Protein Microcrystals May Offer a Way to Treat Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common disease which affects around 1 in 3 people over the age of 45. The condition is characterized by damage to the cartilage layer which cover the ends of bones. When damage is severe, joint movement becomes so painful that replacement of the joint is eventually required.
Recombinant growth factors are highly potent, but very fragile molecules which have proven ability to regenerate damaged cells. Growth factors cannot be administered systemically to treat osteoarthritis as the side effects would be too severe. Surgical administration is not practical because the short growth factor half-lives mean that frequent administration is required. To address this stability limitation, the two groups are using PODS™, a patented technology which encases growth factors in a protective protein microcrystal lattice. With this “armour” layer, growth factors survive in the body much longer, allowing them more time to do their work. Rather than lasting a few days, a single injection of PODS™ growth factors can produce a sustained therapeutic effect over several months. The two teams of researchers are now testing the PODS™ growth factors in models of osteoarthritis, prior to performing clinical trials. This work is being funded partly by a grant from InnovateUK.
Dr Michael Jones, CEO of Cell Guidance Systems, commented “PODS™ growth factors offer the prospect of an effective therapy for Osteoarthritis. We are excited to be working alongside a world-class team of clinicians and veterinarians in the development of this treatment”.
Prof Andrew McCaskie, Head of the Department of Surgery and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Cambridge, commented “Osteoarthritis places a great burden on both patients and healthcare systems around the world. Early intervention with treatments that can slow or possibly even reverse the development of the diseases will be a significant advance”.