An injection given just once a year could banish the agony of painful joints for millions of arthritis sufferers. It would reduce the need for painkillers and boost patients’ quality of life. Scientists behind the idea believe it has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of osteoarthritis, which affects around eight million people in Britain. Instead of taking powerful anti–inflammatory drugs every day to cope with the pain, patients could cut down on pills and simply go along to hospital once a year for a jab.
The breakthrough treatment would cost £250 a year because it involves a relatively cheap class of drugs – bisphosphonates – already widely used to treat the bone–wasting illness osteoporosis. More than a million people in Britain take them but swallowing bisphosphonates can cause inflammation in the gullet. A jab taken once a year could provide a simpler and more effective treatment.
Professor Flavia Cicuttini, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is part of a research team trialling the new jab. He said: “If this medication is effective, it will be a completely new treatment for slowing knee osteoarthritis from getting worse. Via A breakthrough treatment is set to halt pain of arthritis