Biotech firm awarded for approach to drug development

Posted: 18 February 2019 | | No comments yet

A UK based biotech firm has been awarded a grant to develop a treatment for osteoarthritis, after promising results from a Phase I trial…


Innovate UK has awarded AKL Research and Development (AKLRD) with a grant for the development of an osteoarthritis (OA) treatment.

The Agency has recognised that APPA is a potential “game-changing” OA treatment despite it only being at the Phase I trial stage, and has awarded the biotech firm £675,000. This will contribute to the development of APPA in its Phase II trial, which is expected to commence later this year, based on anticipated favourable results in the Phase I trial. This is currently being conducted at Liverpool University and scheduled to finish this summer. 

Chris Sawyer, Innovation Lead, at Innovate UK 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.”

APPA is a combination of two synthetic secondary metabolites of plant origin, the natural versions of which have been used individually for centuries in traditional non-prescription medicines. Combining these two molecules in a unique ratio increases the potency and has resulted in a potential new, oral treatment for OA. APPA has demonstrated pain relief, improved functionality and slowed cartilage destruction in animal models of the condition and it is hoped it will show similar results in human trials.

Innovate UK only awards grants to innovations it believes are clearly disruptive and game-changing. AKLRD underwent a highly competitive process, with five independent expert assessors evaluating its submission. The assessors praised the “strong” and “exciting proposal with large potential” and described AKLRD’s work as an “exciting area of research in a disease with a high prevalence and major debilitation in many sufferers”.

David Miles, Chief Executive Officer of AKLRD, said: “For APPA to be recognised as a disruptive innovation is incredibly exciting. 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.”

Consultant Rheumatologist Professor Robert Moots, who is leading the APPA Phase I trial at Liverpool University’s Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, 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.”

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation with a remit to drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. Since 2007, it has committed more than £1.8 billion to innovation, helping 8,000 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £16 billion to the UK economy and nearly 70,000 jobs.