UK biotech gets grant for further trial of osteoarthritis drug

UK biotech AKL Research and Development (AKLRD) has received a grant from a UK government-backed innovation body to develop its potentially “game changing” osteoarthritis drug.

The treatment is only at the phase 1 trial stage, but Innovate UK has awarded the Stevenage-based firm £675,000 to help it get phase 2 development under way.

A mid-stage trial of the drug known as APPA is expected to begin later this year, based on anticipated favourable results from the phase 1 trial.

This is being conducted at Liverpool University and scheduled to finish this summer.

APPA is a combination of two synthetic secondary metabolites of plant origin, the natural versions of which have been used individually for centuries in traditional non-prescription medicines.

Combining these two molecules in a unique ratio increases the potency and has resulted in a potential new, oral treatment for osteoarthritis (OA).

Experiments in animals have shown APPA relieved pain, improved functionality and slowed cartilage destruction, and it is hoped it will show similar results in human trials.

Innovate UK only awards grants to innovations it believes could be disruptive, and AKLRD’s application was vetted by five independent expert assessors.

These assessors praised the work done so far, noting that the disease has a high prevalence, but is highly debilitating in those affected.

Current treatments focus on treating the pain caused by the disease, managing any stiffness or swelling, and improving joint mobility and flexibility.

David Miles, CEO of AKLRD, said APPA could slow progression of the disease as well as relieve pain.

He said: “For APPA to be recognised as a disruptive innovation is incredibly exciting.

“The award from Innovate UK will allow us to secure the future development of what we believe could be an important medicine for OA patients who currently have limited treatment options.

“We believe APPA not only tackles pain but will also put the brakes on the inflammatory cascade that we know is responsible for the devastating consequences of OA.”

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation with a remit to drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

Since 2007, it has committed more than £1.8 billion to innovation, helping 8,000 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £16 billion to the UK economy and nearly 70,000 jobs.

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