Researchers from National Research University Higher School of Economics have discovered a new way to combat osteoarthritis

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A group of researchers from the Higher School of Economics and the N. D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, together with colleagues from the Molecular Technologies company, have developed a drug that slows down the development of osteoarthritis. This was announced on Friday by the press service of the HSE.

Today it is the first disease-modifying drug that both affects the metabolism of bone and cartilage tissue and suppresses the inflammatory process. The drug suppresses SYK and cSrc enzymes in cartilage and bone tissue cells, which contribute to the development of inflammation and joint destruction.

“As far as we know, this is the first drug that affects the metabolism of bone and cartilage tissue and also suppresses inflammatory responses. The results of the first phase of trials give hope for the possibility of effective treatment of this serious disease. Now we are waiting for the start of the next, second phase of the clinical trials, with the participation of patients, which will last about a year in total,” said Viktor Stroylov, Associate Professor at the HSE.

The researchers suggested that if SYK and cSrc kinases are “turned off” (blocked), it may help to stop joint destruction. To do this, the scientists proposed using the MT-SYK-03 molecule, which they initially developed as a kinase inhibitor for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a more severe autoimmune disease. However, it turned out that SYK and cSrc kinases play a key role in the development of both diseases.

“At first, we were developing a drug for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and we were checking the impact of the MT-SYK-03 molecule we created. During the research, we found that it blocks two target enzymes — kinases involved in the development of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. At the same time, this molecule hardly affects other kinases at all, which is a great success,” Stroylov explained.

A drug candidate was created on the basis of the MT-SYK-03 molecule, and it has successfully passed the first stage of clinical trials. The experiments were first conducted on mice and rats suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The drug has also been tested on healthy volunteers to ensure its safety for humans. Animal trials have shown that the destruction of bone tissue slows down, while for cartilage tissue it is even possible to reverse the destruction process and make the cartilage regenerate.