A virus-like particle vaccine was developed to stop chronic pain caused by osteoarthritis inhibiting a nerve growth factor (NGF). The vaccine was administered in mice who exhibited symptoms of painful osteoarthritis and was shown to visibly reverse these effects. The vaccine works by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies to block naturally-occurring NGF. “I’m happy to see the vaccine platform perform so well, and look forward to seeing the vaccine enter clinical testing in companion animals,” said co-lead author Professor Martin Bachmann, from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and the University of Bern.
Pain in osteoarthritis poses a substantial social and economic burden with fewer than 25% of patients having adequate pain control. NGF has emerged as a key driver of pain behavior in murine studies and antibodies to NGF are potent analgesics in human osteoarthritis. Using a novel virus-like particle, von Loga et al created a therapeutic vaccine that reversibly induced antibodies against NGF and abrogated pain behavior in murine osteoarthritis.
Image credit: OpenStax / CC BY 4.0.
“This is the first successful vaccination to target pain in osteoarthritis, one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation,” said co-lead author Professor Tonia Vincent, a researcher at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford.“Whilst there are still safety issues that need to be considered before these types of approaches can be used in patients, we are reassured that this vaccine design allows us to control antibody levels and thus tailor treatment to individual cases according to need.”
Current pain relief therapeutics for osteoarthritis include NSAID’s and opioids. However, NGF is a promising target for osteoarthritis pain.
“Too many people living with pain do not get effective relief from the treatments that are currently available, and that is why the development of more effective painkillers, with fewer side-effects, is vital for people living with arthritis,” said Dr. Stephen Simpson, Director of research at Versus Arthritis, which funded the study. “Although at an early stage, this is highly innovative research and these results are very promising.”
Findings of the study were published in Annals of Rheumatic Disease.