Peony pill offers hope for arthritis sufferers

Peony pill offers hope for arthritis sufferers

A new treatment for arthritis is being developed and it’s made from a common garden flower. APPA has harnessed the anti-inflammatory compounds of peonies to ease pain and slow down the destruction of cartilage, which keeps joints healthy by absorbing the shocks associated with movement.

Scientists at Liverpool University are testing the new drug on 14 patients in a move that could offer hope to elderly people with arthritis. Lead researcher of the trial, Professer Robert Moots, described APPA as having the potential to be “game-changing”.

If the drug comes to market, as is hoped, it could help the eight million people in the UK living with osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of the condition and the top cause of stiffness and joint pain in the older demographic.

The scientists in Liverpool are working alongside a company that specialises in identifying organic compounds that are capable of being synthesised. AKL Research and Development (AKLRD) only develop such compounds that have proven efficacy and safety records.

In its recent work, AKLRD identified two molecules that act together in a synergistic manner and formed them into the APPA drug. It has now reached Phase I of its clinical trial, which is an important milestone in bringing any treatment to the market.

Professor Moots said: “Millions of osteoarthritis patients are suffering every day with severe pain because the current prescription drugs available are often not effective or cannot be used long-term.

“APPA has the potential to be an effective and ‘game-changing’ treatment for OA [osteoarthritis] that could not only tackle the pain it causes but do so with excellent tolerability and also, we hope, stop the disease from causing further joint damage.”

AKLRD reported that while data on APPA is still at an early stage, the trial so far has lived up to expectations and the drug is being well-tolerated. The company remains positive about the outcome of the next phase of testing.

The researchers are looking for volunteers to come forward to test the drug in the future. Successful applicants must be between 18 and 75 years old, with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in the knee.