NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There’s an exciting development that could stop painful arthritis in its tracks.
It’s a treatment that has had amazing success in dogs and is now being tested in humans.
CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says it’s a groundbreaking genetic therapy could offer treatment for osteoarthritis, which is very common. That’s the wear-and-tear type of arthritis that destroys cartilage and is the leading cause of hip and knee replacement.
It turns out some clever genetic manipulation can stop the inflammation that underlies osteoarthritis.
Every step Baer the black lab takes is intensely painful because of osteoarthritis. After a dose of the new gene therapy, Baer can do something he hasn’t done since he was practically a puppy: Run.
Louise can barely make it up the stairs. But after the same gene therapy, she races down.
“We have seen no adverse events in the dogs, in over 20-30 dogs, which is very exciting,” said Dr. Linda Watkins of the University of Colorado.
Dr. Watkins developed the innovative treatment that boosts a powerful body chemical called Interleukin-10, or IL-10 for short. It’s found in the joints of dogs and humans.
IL-10 is a natural compound that works as a powerful anti-inflammatory hormone. There’s not enough of it in the joint to control the pain and cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis. So Dr. Watkins synthesizes tiny, circular strands of DNA called plasmids that tell a cell to make IL-10. When attached to a carrier molecule and injected into the arthritic joint, the cells of the joint absorb the plasmids and start making lots of IL-10, which shuts down the inflammation in the joint.
Knob, 6, had failed multiple surgeries and medications for his osteoarthritis.
“You could just tell he was in pain,” his owner Craig said.
But now, Know is able to keep up with his brother.
“He goes further faster and wants to go more often,” Craig said.
Based on its safety and success in dogs, the FDA has approved the IL-10 gene therapy for a clinical trial in humans. The hope is that people will end up as pain-free as Knob.
“It’s the best he’s felt in his whole life,” said Craig.
While inflammation and pain are dramatically reduced with IL-10 therapy, it’s not clear whether any of the lost cartilage grows back.
Dr. Watkins told Gomze that the plasmid genes and the IL-10 they produce stay in the joint they’re injected into, a key safety factor for the FDA.