Osteoarthritis: New trial drug has powerful anti-inflammatory effect


A new drug that researchers are currently trialing to treat osteoarthritis can dampen the harmful effects of an overactive immune system while protecting its beneficial functions. The drug could, therefore, potentially treat rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other conditions resulting from inflammation.
The network of cells and signaling molecules that make up the body’s immune system are critical to our survival. In the time of Covid-19, this has perhaps never been clearer.
Yet the human immune system must maintain a delicate balance. If this balance tips over into over activity, the immune system can be extremely harmful to the body.
Indeed, an overambitious immune system causes a raft of diseases. These include inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of arthritis, which the medical community groups as autoimmune disorders. Scientists usually consider osteoarthritis, in contrast, to be a disease of “wear and tear,” and they have only recently begun to understand the role of inflammation in its progression.
In a study that the journal Inflammopharmacology recently published, researchers from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom found that a new trial drug for osteoarthritis could help keep the immune system in check while ensuring that its protective functions remain intact.
The study focused on the role of neutrophils, which are the most common type of white blood cell and act as the first line of defense in the immune system.
When the body encounters a pathogen, it rapidly dispatches neutrophils to the site of infection where they capture and destroy the pathogen. They also produce signaling molecules called cytokines, which recruit other immune cells to help fight the infection.
In extreme cases, the level of cytokine release is so high that it is called a “cytokine storm.”
These so-called storms of pro-inflammatory cytokines cause extreme inflammation that can damage the circulatory system, leading to leakage of serum from the blood into the tissues and collapse of the vascular system.
In collaboration with AKL Research & Development, Prof. Edwards and his team have tested the action of a new combination drug called APPA on the functioning of neutrophils. The new drug consists of the plant-derived molecules apocynin and paeonol. AKL initially developed the drug to treat osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of the joints that affects more than32.5 million adults in the United States.