Researchers from Oxford University have developed a vaccine that could treat chronic arthritis pain by producing antibodies that would serve as painkiller.The research is considered a medical breakthrough as the first-ever vaccine approach to treat pain.
Osteoarthritis(OA) is a common joint disease in humans and long-term use of painkillers are well known to pose significant risks.
The researchers developed the vaccine from virus like particles which were designed to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies to block naturally-occurring nerve growth factors (NGF). NGF is a validated target for pain and the antibodies against it has proved to show great therapeutic efficacy.
The vaccine was tested on mice models of osteoarthritis which underwent partial meniscectomy to have uneven distribution of weight across their lower limbs. The mice showed higher levels of antibodies after vaccination followed by a visible reduction in pain.
“This is the first successful vaccination to target pain in osteoarthritis, one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation”, said Professor Tonia Vincent of Oxford University’s Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and a co-author of the study.
“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”, he revealed in a press release.
The researchers are hopeful that the vaccine could provide a better alternative therapy helping patients stop relying on painkillers that could cause harmful side effects in due course.
The study was published in Annals of Rheumatic Disease this week.