Does a molecule found in fungus hold promise for the treatment of osteoarthritis pain?

Disease - Osteoarthritis, knee pain

Lead applicant - Dr Cornelia de Moor

Organisation - University of Nottingham

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £143,087.34

Start date - 25 September 2017

Reference - 21586

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Chronic pain can be a major symptom experienced by people living with osteoarthritis. Previously, this research group has shown that cordycepin (a molecule found in cordyceps mushrooms, which are widely used in Chinese traditional medicine) reduces pain in rats with osteoarthritis. The aim of this research is to investigate how cordycepin reduces osteoarthritic pain.

Why is this research important?

The chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis is the main reason patients seek help from healthcare professionals. Pain killers are the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis, but they often have side-effects and provide inadequate pain relief for many patients. Identifying molecules that can modify pain is essential for the development of new treatments.

A molecule called mRNA acts as a template for making all the proteins required in the cell. A key step in the production of functional mRNA is a process called polyadenylation, which adds an extra "tail" section to the mRNA. Cordycepin is known to block this step in mRNA production.

In this project, the researchers aim to understand how polyadenylation of specific mRNA in pain nerves may regulate pain in the body. This information could help to further develop cordycepin and other substances which block this process as medicines for osteoarthritis, as well as increasing our understanding of pain signalling.

How will the finding benefit patients?

Despite current pain relief options, many people living with osteoarthritis are still experiencing pain on a daily basis, therefore development of new pain relief drugs could benefit many people living with the condition. If these polyadenylation inhibitors, such as cordycepin, are shown to be safe and effective, clinical trials could start in 5 to 10 years. Also, as cordycepin can be found in food supplements available in the UK, early clinical studies could investigate the quality, safety and effectiveness of these supplements.