Sunday, October 05, 2008

Licofelone and osteoarthritis

I noted in my last post that osteoarthritis may be a misnomer as many consider this form of joint breakdown to be non-inflammatory. If that is the case, than osteoarthrosis would be a better name for the degenerating backs, fingers, knees, and hips of those who are middle-aged and beyond.

Just a moment's research, however, has led me to believe I typed too soon--the cartilage breakdown associated with osteoarthritis (OA) is indeed inflammatory in origin; there just aren't any white cells in the joint fluid to prove it. OA-related joint destruction is generated by cytokines which are pro-inflammatory molecules that cause a cascade of destruction when produced by cells under siege.

Turns out there is actually a world of inflammatory trouble going on in those aching knees. An enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase is turning arachidonic acid (produced from high omega-6 foods such as fatty red meats and egg yolks) into leukotriene B4 which along with certain cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor mediates structural cartilage damage and the formation of bone spurs.

A drug called licofelone is now in Phase III clinical tests as a dual action agent for the treatment of OA. Not only does licofelone function as a COX inhibitor like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Celebrex, but it is also a LOX inhibitor that puts a lid on all this hyper lipoxygenase business in osteoarthritic joints. As such, it decreases the pain of OA and modifies the joint destruction (as in slows it down!!) so maybe your original issue knee joints will last as long as you do.

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