Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 08:43 AM EDT

Pain-blocking Vaccine Developed for Arthritis

Jun 09, 2019 11:15 PM EDT

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Arthritis causes severe joint pain, and this pain is often managed with prescription medications. While painkillers may be effective in the short-term, their long-term use can be detrimental to your health. Luckily, scientists have discovered a new arthritis vaccine that could potentially eliminate the need for pain medications and dependence on them for arthritis patients. Researchers funded by Versus Arthritis have developed a vaccine that, in tests on mice, has proved effective at treating persistent pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage on the ends of the long bones wears down. This cartilage degeneration leads to joint stiffness, pain with movement, and bone deformities. It is most common in the knees, hips, hands, back, and neck.

Speaking about the study, Versus Arthritis Director of Research Dr. Stephen Simpson said: "We know that for the 10 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, 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 aim to tackle this urgent problem and discover new ways to help people overcome pain," he adds.

Arthritis is one of the most common joint disorders, and it becomes increasingly common with age. This condition can be a result of chronic wear and tear, autoimmune inflammatory diseases, or infection. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is estimated that a third of people aged 45 years and older have sought treatment for osteoarthritis in the UK, roughly 8.75 million people. At least 18 percent of adults over 45 in England and 17 percent in Scotland have osteoarthritis of the knee.

Pain medications are often prescribed to control this pain, but long-term use can lead to increased sensitivity to pain, addiction, higher risk of depression, and more. In addition, painkillers can decrease immune function and increase the risk of infection and developing other diseases.

The main cause of osteoarthritis pain has been found to be a nerve growth factor or NGF, which is produced by the immune system. Scientists have discovered an arthritis vaccine that can cause the body to produce antibodies against this growth factor, causing NGF to become neutralized and eliminating pain entirely.

There is still more research that needs to be done to prove the effectiveness of this vaccine in humans before it is widely released and available to the public. However, it shows a lot of potential for alleviating the pain associated with arthritis. Along with preventing pain, this vaccine can also eliminate pain medication dependence and serve as a much more cost-effective solution for this problem.

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