Osteoarthritis is due to loss of cartilage in the joints. Without cartilage, patients struggle with walking, climbing stairs and taking a bath. Pain killers help initially, but when the cartilage is destroyed, a joint replacement is the only remedy that can return patients to some degree of independence, but not to full function. Joint replacements have a finite life and revision surgery to replace them is complex, making them sub-optimal especially for the growing number of younger patients with osteoarthritis.
The project team discovered that blocking a specific receptor called ROR2 on the surface of cartilage cells induces cartilage regeneration and sustained pain relief in mice with osteoarthritis. Additionally, it has been shown that this approach also works on human cartilage.
We hope to develop a first-in-kind disease modifying drug that will slow progression or even revert cartilage breakdown and, at the same time, treat pain for patients with osteoarthritis.