Scientists have come up with a new vaccine that helps in blocking a nerve growth factor that is the root cause of the pain.
Arthritis is one of the most difficult conditions to live with. The patients suffering from arthritis are constantly in pain, every movement of their hurts and sometimes the pain gets unbearable. Lucky for these patients, scientists have found a new vaccine that may not be able to cure the disease but can surely help them deal with the pain. Osteoarthritis sufferers currently have to rely on painkillers to combat their agonizing pain. Recently, researchers at Oxford University developed a vaccine that helps block nerve growth factor (NGF), which is the primary cause of the agony. The researchers first tested the vaccine on mice. They found that it triggered the immune system to work against the naturally occurring nerve growth factor. In other words, it numbs their pain. The current methods of using painkillers do not really give enough relief to the patients. The newly developed vaccine gives hope to millions of patients who deal with this pain every day and could be the perfect solution.
Surveys conducted in the recent past show that there are around 9 million people in the UK who suffer from osteoarthritis, while in the US, there are 30 million people. There is no proper cure for the condition, however, scientists believe that this new finding might be the closest they have ever come to curing the condition. It is a step closer as now, patients will not feel any pain. As reported by the Daily Mail, Tonia Vincent, one of the researchers said, "This is the first successful vaccination to target pain in osteoarthritis, one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation."
The vaccine was first seen to work in mice. Researchers believe that with a few modifications, the vaccine will help humans as well. The vaccine triggers the immune system to produce antibodies that will work against the NGF and cause numbness. It was tested in mice that had an uneven distribution of weight across the hind legs - which the scientists said was a sign of painful osteoarthritis. The vaccine has shown promising results of reversing the pain.
The mice that were vaccinated stood with their weight more equally distributed between both hind legs rather than leaning on one side due to the pain, like they used to. The vaccinated mice were also seen to have a higher level of antibodies, which "appeared to be associated with an analgesic response". And the vaccine, named CuMVttNGF, helped relieve pain in the mice when it was given both before and after the pain had taken hold. According to the researchers, the total cost of osteoarthritis, the most common joint disease, to the economy of developed countries is estimated between 1-2.5 percent of the GDP.
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The condition normally sets in as people grow older. It is nothing but an inflammation of the joints. It occurs when the flexible tissue at the end of the joints starts to wear down. The condition is natural and occurs over time, and worsens with age. It is different from rheumatoid arthritis, a long-term illness in which the immune system causes the body to attack itself, causing painful, swollen and stiff joints. Patients suffering from osteoarthritis generally require replacement joints because their joints have been worn down to great extents, causing agonizing pain every time they move.
There is a very small number of patients that have adequate pain control for their condition. The painkillers that these patients are supposed to take to help their condition are generally very expensive, and if used over a long period of time can pose significant health risks. The researchers at Oxford University believe that the newly developed vaccine will be a lot more effective when it comes to relieving the patients of their pain. They also suggest that it turns out to be cheaper alternative rather than regularly having to buy pain killers or undergoing surgeries.
According to Professor Vincent, "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." The research was funded by a charity called Versus Arthritis. Dr. Stephen Simpson from the charity said, "We know that for the ten million people with arthritis, persistent pain is life changing. Too many people living with pain do not get effective relief from the treatments that are currently available."
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He further continued, "And that is why the development of more effective pain killers, with fewer side-effects, is vital for people living with arthritis. Although at an early stage, this is highly innovative research and these results are very promising. We are proud to support research such as this, which aims to tackle this urgent problem and discover new ways to help people overcome pain." Hopefully, the vaccine does work as the researchers say so and believe. This will come as a huge relief to the millions of people who suffer from the condition every single year.
Arthritis steals from someone you know every day. It can prevent you being able to work - to be yourself. It shouldn’t have to be like this. Watch the first of our new ads and declare yourself #VersusArthritis: https://t.co/Ot1QYntcKZ pic.twitter.com/6t8wk25UhJ— Versus Arthritis (@VersusArthritis) November 8, 2018