The University of Liverpool has collaborated with pharmaceutical firm AKL Research and Development to evaluate a new drug ‘APPA’ for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA).

AKL identifies phytochemicals in natural products capable of being synthesised.

The previous trials have identified two such molecules that act synergistically and have been combined to generate a patented drug APPA.

The positive results from pre-clinical animal testing trials conducted to assess APPA have showed pain relief from OA, improved functionality and slowing of cartilage destruction.

To be conducted at the Liverpool Clinical Trials Unit (LCTU), the clinical trial will be led by rheumatologist Professor Robert Moots from the University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease.

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Moots said: “This drug has huge potential to provide an effective treatment for OA. A reliable and easy way to treat OA has clear potential to save large amounts of money for the NHS and greatly improve the lifestyle and health of patients.”

“There remains a high unmet need for an effective, well-tolerated OA drug, so understandably we are very excited by APPA’s prospects.”

A study of the effects of APPA on human cells such as activated neutrophils is being led by Professor Steven Edwards at the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology.

According to the ongoing research, the drug does not target the host defence properties of neutrophils required for protection from infections, but blocks their pro-inflammatory activities.

AKL chief executive officer David Sharples said: “Professor Moots is leading this important clinical trial and that, in conjunction with Professor Edwards’ research on APPA’s novel modes of action, should provide the robust evidence we need to help bring this drug to market.

“There remains a high unmet need for an effective, well-tolerated OA drug, so understandably we are very excited by APPA’s prospects.”

Image: University of Liverpool. Photo: courtesy of AKL Research and Development.