Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the leading cause of disability in the world with 1 in 8 older adults affected. Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, loss of flexibility and grating sensation are just some of the common debilitating symptoms, frequently involving knee joints. Osteoarthritis is caused by slow ‘wear and tear’ of the joint cartilage, synovial surface and bones, leading to pain and loss of mobility.

Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, with pain relief in the form of NSAIDs being the most commonly prescribed medications. Hip and knee replacements are estimated to cost the NHS more than £850m per year. Osteoarthritis is a multifaceted disease characterised by inflammation, cartilage degradation, abnormal bone formation (osteophytes) and chondrocyte hypertrophy. Together these disease processes lead to the gradual degeneration of the joint leading to pain and immobility. Due to the complex nature of the disease, it seems unlikely that therapies that target single disease pathways will be effective.

With this in mind, Causeway has developed OsteoMiR™, a novel miRNA that targets disease pathways, including significantly, pain, inflammation, chondrocyte hypertrophy, osteophyte formation, and the proteases that degrade cartilage proteins. Treatment of a human in vitro osteoarthritis model with OsteoMiR™ reduces the expression of disease pathways, suggesting that OsteoMiR™ has the potential to halt or even reverse the development of OA. OsteoMiR™ will be injected directly into affected joints, as per current medical practice for the administration of steroids and analgesics, meaning that no change of current clinical practice is required.