Identification of an ion channel target in the treatment of osteoarthritis pain
For the treatment of chronic joint pain, particularly osteoarthritis, a new biological drug target and potential biomarker has been identified at McGill University.
Affecting primarily the knee and hip, osteoarthritis pain is associated with the hypersensitivity of pain receptors in joints. Unfortunately, current therapies have general targets and many osteoarthritis patients often still experience pain after treatment. Instead of pursuing traditional drug screening routes to find a new target, scientists focused on the underlying problem. One of those problems is that mechanosensitive ion channels are sometimes hypersensitized to activate under inflammatory conditions with low-threshold stimuli, such as walking. With the identification of a hypersensitized ion channel by the Sharif-Naeini Lab, companies now have a unique method to screen for new drug targets.
While this is in an early stage of development, this novel osteoarthritis biomarker target has been validated in vivo and an animal model has already been generated. Therefore, if a therapeutic agent is discovered after small molecule screening, the inventor has an available mouse model of osteoarthritis to expedite the drug discovery efforts. Biologically, the mechanosensitive ion channel also has a high likelihood of importance as it is expressed in sensory neurons and is upregulated in the inventor’s mouse model of osteoarthritis. Finally, the ion channel of interest is induced by TNF-alpha2, which is the drug target of 6 rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
- Drug target tested in mouse model of osteoarthritis
- Biological function of ion channel plays a known role in arthritis joint inflammation
- Fills important need as osteoarthritis has no long-term cure or biomarker