Novel regenerative drug for osteoarthritis entering clinical trials

LA JOLLA, CA – January 9, 2018 – The California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), the nonprofit drug discovery affiliate of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), today announced that it will begin treating osteoarthritis (OA) patients in March with an investigational drug developed as a collaboration between the two institutes. Known as KA34, the drug is a small molecule that “encourages adult stem cells already residing in the joint to mature toward chondrocytes, the cells that produce and maintain healthy cartilage,” explains Peter Schultz, PhD, president of TSRI and Calibr. “Current medicines only treat the symptoms of OA,” he adds, “while KA34 was created to address its underlying causes through the regeneration of cartilage. We’re very enthusiastic about its potential to restore mobility and quality of life to individuals with OA.”

An investigational new drug (IND) application detailing the first in-patient study with KA34 was accepted by the FDA in May of 2017. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which supported the KA34 preclinical research effort from inception, has awarded Calibr an additional $8.4 million to test KA34 in a Phase 1 trial in approximately 60 OA patients.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, OA is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million people in the U.S. The foundation estimates that between 2008 and 2011, earning losses due to OA have cost an estimated $80 billion.

“KA34 is a flagship program that represents our combined mission at TSRI and Calibr,” says Schultz, “which is to accelerate the creation and delivery of much needed new medicines to patients suffering from disease.”

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