The UK Government’s innovation agency Innovate UK has awarded AKL Research and Development (AKLRD) £675,000 linked to the potential of its investigational medicine APPA for osteoarthritis.

There are currently no licensed drugs with efficacy and long term safety for this indication.

APPA is currently in Phase I of the clinical process, but this grant will help AKLRD to develop the drug into a Phase II trial later in 2019.

Innovate UK innovation lead Chris Sawyer said: “This is an exciting area of research in a disease with a high prevalence and major debilitation in many sufferers.

“Supporting AKLRD to pursue the development of this important medicine is aligned perfectly with Innovate UK’s objective to support UK business growth in the health and life sciences sector.”

AKLRD chief executive officer David Miles said: “For APPA to be recognised as a disruptive innovation is incredibly exciting.

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“The award from Innovate UK will allow us to secure the future development of what we believe could be an important medicine for OA patients who currently have limited treatment options.

“We believe APPA not only tackles pain but will also put the brakes on the inflammatory cascade that we know is responsible for the devastating consequences of OA.”

AKLRD is conducting the Phase I trial of APPA at the University of Liverpool’s clinical trial unit.

Trial leader at consultant rheumatologist at Liverpool University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease Professor Robert Moots said: “Millions of osteoarthritis patients are suffering every day with severe pain because the current prescription drugs available are often not effective or cannot be used long-term.

“APPA has the potential to be an effective treatment for OA that could not only tackle the pain it causes but do so with excellent tolerability and, also, we hope, stop the disease from causing further joint damage.

“It’s incredibly exciting that Innovate UK has clearly recognised the potential of this new drug which could transform the lives of OA patients.”

APPA is a combination of two synthetic secondary metabolites derived from plants. It has an anti-inflammatory effect by modulating pathways of intracellular signalling molecules NFkB and Nrf2.