Gene therapy research targets osteoarthritis

A team of scientists at the University of Manchester is hopeful that a
research project could lead to an effective new treatment for the millions of
people in the UK who suffer from osteoarthritis.

The team at the School of Biological Science believe they can slow down or
possibly even prevent the development of osteoarthritis by developing a
targeted gene therapy over the next five years.

If their approach is successful, it could lead to clinical trials on
patients within the next decade. The team’s work is being funded by a five-year
grant of almost £685,000 from medical research charity the Arthritis Research

Around two million people in the UK have osteoarthritis, the most common
form of arthritis. The number of people with the condition is rising as the
population’s age and weight increase.

"We’re very optimistic. We’ve been working towards this for about 10
years now, and we’re at the point where we can talk about developing a treatment,"
said Gillian Wallis, a senior lecturer in medicine, who, together with Ray
Boot-Hanford, a reader in molecular biology, is leading the research programme

"We are still very much at the research stage, but if all our
laboratory experiments work out then we hope to translate the results directly
into clinical practice. We would hope to be looking at clinical trials on
patients within 10 years," she added.

The only currently available treatments for osteoarthritis are non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that alleviate symptoms but do not stop the
progress of the disease.

But many patients cannot tolerate these drugs because of side effects.

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