The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and Evgen Pharma, a clinical stage drug development company, have secured funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for a 4-year PhD studentship focused on investigating treatment for osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a condition which affects joints, causing pain and stiffness. There are now almost 9 million people in the UK suffering from hand, foot, spine, hip and knee osteoarthritis. There is currently no cure nor treatment for osteoarthritis and sufferers are destined to receive palliative pain relief up until a time when joint replacement remains the only option.

The BBRSC funding for this Industrial Co-operative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) PhD Studentship, will allow the RVC and Evgen Pharma to build upon a prior collaboration investigating the potential of the drug SFX-01 as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

The RVC has long been at the forefront of the One Health initiative, which considers the interrelationships between human and animal health. Previous research by the team from the Skeletal Biology Group at the RVC, led by Professor Andrew Pitsillides, showed that mice with spontaneously-arising osteoarthritis demonstrated significantly improved bone architecture and preservation of normal movement following three months of SFX-01 treatment. This new grant-funded project, part of the London interdisciplinary doctoral training program, will seek to understand the mechanism of action behind these beneficial effects.

Professor Andrew Pitsillides said: “Myself and my colleagues Drs Isabel Orriss and Behzad Javaheri in the RVC’s Skeletal Biology Group are very excited by the prospect of working with Evgen Pharma to identify the cellular and molecular targets by which SFX-01 exerts its beneficial actions in osteoarthritis.”

Evgen Pharma is a clinical stage drug development company which focuses on the treatment of cancer and neurological conditions. CEO Dr Stephen Franklin commented: “As a Company we remain focussed on the delivery of our current Company sponsored clinical trials and our strategic focus is in cancer and neurology.  We will however provide SFX-01 to a limited number of world leading academics and clinical groups that wish to investigate SFX-01 in alternative therapeutic areas if they can demonstrate a robust clinical plan, source their own non-dilutive grant funding and we retain commercialisation rights. We, and the RVC, are delighted that the BBSRC is funding this programme and it is another step towards the possibility of a future, grant funded, clinical trial on SFX-01 in osteoarthritis”.

 

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