Caterpillars could hold the key to new arthritis treatment

A fungus that infects caterpillars could offer new hope for arthritis sufferers.

Caterpillars hold key to arthritis cure

A substance from a fungus that infects caterpillars could offer new treatment hope for sufferers of osteoarthritis, according to new research.

Cordycepin is an active compound isolated from the caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris and has proved to be effective in treating osteoarthritis by blocking inflammation in a new way, through reducing a process called polyadenylation.

Study leader Dr Cornelia De Moor from the University of Nottingham said: “The natural compound cordycepin is derived from a caterpillar fungus which is famous in the Far East for its medicinal properties.

“In this paper we show that orally administrated cordycepin reduces pain and halts disease progression in animal models of osteoarthritis.

“Intriguingly, it does this by a different mechanism than any other known anti-inflammatory painkiller, through affecting the last step of making a messenger RNA, polyadenylation.

“This means that medicines derived from cordycepin may help patients for whom other treatments have failed. We hope that cordycepin will prove to be the founder of a new class of painkiller, the polyadenylation inhibitors.

“There is a long way to go before a cordycepin derived medicine reaches patients, but our work is very promising we are very excited about the prospects.”

Reducing pain and damage
Osteoarthritis is a common chronic age-related joint disease, with approximately a third of people over the age of 45 seeking treatment for the disease.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes flaky and rough and small pieces break off to form loose bodies in the fluid that lubricates the joint called synovial fluid. This causes irritation and inflammation of the synovial membrane. The loss of cartilage leaves bones unprotected and vulnerable to damage.

Cordycepin treatment reduced pain behaviour and structural damage in rats and mice with osteoarthritis, supporting a role of polyadenylation in osteoarthritis progression, inflammatory gene expression and pain.

Possible new treatment options
Treatment options for this painful and debilitating disease are largely limited to lifestyle changes and reducing pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDS] or opioids which have limited efficacy and come with problematic side effects. As a result, joint replacement surgery is a common outcome.

The results from this new research could lead to a more effective treatment for osteoarthritis sufferers that is less toxic, so will have reduced side effects for patients.

“Although in its early stages, the study has great potential for helping people suffering (from the) pain of musculoskeletal conditions and demonstrates the high value and impact of novel discovery-led research on understanding and treating diseases,” said Dr Stephen Simpson.

Do you suffer from osteoarthritis? Do any of the pain treatments work for you? Are you excited by this new development?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    26th Mar 2019
    The only problem with these "pain inhibitors" is that they often block ALL pain. I have been on serious pain medication for severe osteo arthritis for many years now, and have found that I have hurt myself often (pulled muscles, sprains, damage from overdoing things), due to the fact that the usual pain warnings the body sends were inhibited, so I was not aware that something was wrong, and that I should stop doing whatever it was I was doing. The only way I knew something else was wrong was in the medication "break through" periods. One such incidence landed me in hospital with chest pains which were investigated as a heart attack. Turns out I had hurt chest and back muscles from lifting and carrying 30 sleeper logs in my garden. Normally the body would have been sending messages for me to stop. The only bonus is that if I have chores to do, I do them about a half hour after taking my pills in the morning, when I get a few hours before "break through"........ it's the only way I get anything done at all, but at least I can get them done without having to pay, yet again, for someone to do it for me.
    26th Mar 2019
    Wonderful news, however I need the new treatment now!
    26th Mar 2019
    Does this mean that companies making billions out of pesticides will sit back and allow this research to proceed, if indeed the research is other than a feel good story?
    26th Mar 2019
    Then you start growing extra legs
    27th Mar 2019
    ...and start spinning a cocoon ;)
    26th Mar 2019
    The product Cordyceps was produced back in the nineties by a company called Neways, and were selling it as antiinflammatory along with its other features. If you are on anticoaglants, be wary of buying this product already available,as it can reduce the ability of blood to clot, not good if you are to have urgebnt surgery or a trip to the dentist fo an extraction.
    26th Mar 2019
    But does it work? IE is pain reduced?

    For the last year of so we who have osteo arthritis and were allowed 240 Panadeine Forte monthly to help us through the pain - now just have to suffer with a huge 2 pills allowed which of course go nowhere near helping us get through life.

    So many are seeking anything to relive it and help make their lives a bit more comfortable - which of course means now many are on worse - cannabis. Or isn't that what we were told? Cannabis is very bad for us.

    Why this was done is the burning question.

    Maybe in the USA they have had an epidemic of drug overdoses but bet its not of elderly folk who if anything like us, just aren't that stupid.
    26th Mar 2019
    Oh no, no more Butterflies!
    26th Mar 2019
    If "they" use caterpillers for treatments, what happens to all the butterflies and moths? Will they be no more?
    26th Mar 2019
    They won't be taking the caterpillars from the garden! Your cabbages will be just fine ;-)
    26th Mar 2019
    I am sure this is already available in the form of medicinal mushrooms. Get off the dairy and wheat and you may see improvements too.
    26th Mar 2019
    My 91 year old Mum has osteoarthritis and needs a knee and a hip replacement. She is almost pain-free after adding in a Nrf2 Activator which is proven to reduce inflammation. And before you all howl me down .... yes, I market this product, because it is helping a lot of people as well as my Mum, is all natural and has no side effects.

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