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The idea that something as simple as a vaccine could prevent the pain of arthritis among sufferers may seem like a distant possibility.  However, promising results in mice studies show it could soon become a reality.

Oxford University researchers have developed a vaccine against the NGF (nerve growth factor), which causes pain among osteoarthritis sufferers. In the study, conducted among mice showing symptoms of painful arthritis, the vaccine effectively triggered the immune system to work against the mice’s naturally occurring NGF.

“This is the first successful vaccination to target pain in osteoarthritis, one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation,” said co-lead author Professor Tonia Vincent, a researcher at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford as reported by Sci News.

Osteoarthritis pain has been known to cause significant social and economic burden, with less than 25% of patients having access to adequate pain control. Image source: OpenStax / CC BY 4.0

Still in its early stages, the study has to consider numerous safety issues before it can be reliably tested among human subjects. But researchers believe that the vaccine design will ultimately allow medical professionals to control antibody levels and tailor treatment according to individual cases and need.

“I’m happy to see the vaccine platform perform so well, and look forward to seeing the vaccine enter clinical testing in companion animals,” adds co-lead author Professor Martin Bachmann, from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and the University of Bern.

The study was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. For further reading, click here.

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