New treatment for dogs with osteoarthritis proven to be safe and long-term effective

They also do a movement analysis. Here, a patient with back pain walks across a
They also do a movement analysis. Here, a patient with back pain walks across a pressure plate.
Dogs with osteoarthritis benefit from a new treatment: an injection that delivers a painkiller with a long-term effect. This is proven to be safe and effective. It is possible that the treatment can also help humans in the future. Marianna Tryfonidou , Professor at the Utrecht University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, collaborated for this research with academic partners and companies.

Utrecht University worked together with project coordinator UMCU on a new treatment against osteoarthritis in the past years: a painkiller delivered by means of a direct injection into the joint. Its development was done in collaboration with the company DSM Biomedical. Marianna Tryfonidou says: "We are developing this innovative treatment method so we can help all osteoarthritis patients, both animals and humans, effectively and in the long term in the future." The research has been published in the academic journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

We are developing the innovative treatment method so we can help all osteoarthritis patients, both animals and humans, effectively and in the long term in the future

Marianna Tryfonidou

Number of people with osteoarthritis increases

Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition in humans and pets. Around the world, millions of people are suffering from the consequences of osteoarthritis and this number is only increasing. Dogs are limited in their well-being by osteoarthritis too. They can no longer walk on the beach or run after a ball. Scientist and doctors currently no longer see osteoarthritis as deterioration of the cartilage, but as a joint disease accompanied with long-term inflammation, and affecting the entire joint and the associated tissues.

Pain free

Of all the dogs who received the new treatment, the majority of them remained pain free. They also no longer limped. The researchers concluded this from the dogs’ walking patterns and questionnaires on well-being and lameness completed by the dogs’ owners. The owners received normal, oral pain medication to take home after the treatment. They could give it to their dogs if they believed the pain was not reduced by the treatment. What happened? The dogs who had received the new treatment remained pain free. Only a small number of them needed additional painkillers after two months, unlike the dogs in the control group. They needed additional painkillers within a week after the injection. Tryfonidou says: "With the controlled delivery system, we can treat dogs with chronic osteoarthritis locally, safely and effectively. The exciting and challenging treatment track was possible thanks to the close collaboration with academic partners and companies."

Such an exciting and challenging treatment track was possible thanks to the close collaboration with academic partners and companies

Marianna Tryfonidou

From research in the lab to treatment in dogs

Together with the company DSM Biomedical, the new treatment was developed in phases in the past years. First in the laboratory and in small laboratory animals, and then in a clinical study with dog patients suffering from osteoarthritis. The treating veterinarians and the dogs’ owners did not know which treatment their dogs received: the new treatment or a ’placebo’, a control substance with no working ingredients. The owners then assessed the well-being and lameness of their pets. The researchers also observed the dogs’ walking patterns. That enabled them to figure out to what extent the joints were pain free.

The study was made possible by, among others, ReumaNederland.

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