ENHANCED cartilage regeneration and reduced inflammation as the result of an injectable therapy may be just around the corner, suggest the findings of new research by the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA. The study authors assessed a novel molecule known as RCGD 423 (Regulator of Cartilage Growth and Differentiation).
Researchers applied RCGD 423 to joint cartilage cells in a laboratory setting and noticed greater cell proliferation and a lower rate of cell death. Furthermore, when injected into the knees of rats with damaged cartilage, increased healing was reported.
RCGD 423 was found to impact inflammation through interacting with the glycoprotein 130 (Gp130) receptor, a molecule that promotes cartilage development in embryos but also triggers chronic inflammation in adults. By enhancing the Gp130 receptor’s ability to receive developmental signals and simultaneously blocking the inflammatory signals that can result in long-term cartilage degeneration, RCGD 423 facilitates cartilage regeneration.
As a result of this positive discovery, clinical trials are already being planned to assess either RCGD 423 or a similar molecule as a treatment for osteoarthritis or juvenile arthritis. “The goal is to make an injectable therapy for an early-to-moderate level of arthritis. It is not going to cure arthritis, but it will delay the progression of arthritis to the damaging stages when patients need joint replacements, which account for a million surgeries a year in the USA,” explained Prof Denis Evseenko, University of Southern California.
This novel molecule could represent the first in a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs with far-reaching implications for a variety of rheumatic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, jaw arthritis, and lupus. In addition, a previous study also showed that RCGD 423 is able to activate stem cells and make hair grow. Thus, collaboration with numerous institutions is currently underway to explore the future potential of this drug for treatments beyond rheumatic diseases, such as neurological and heart conditions, baldness, and the maintenance of pluripotent stem cells in the laboratory.