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Novel regenerative drug for osteoarthritis entering clinical trials

knee pain

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.”

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academies of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. In October 2016, TSRI announced a strategic affiliation with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), representing a renewed commitment to the discovery and development of new medicines to address unmet medical needs. For more information, see

About Calibr

The California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) is an independent not-for-profit institute established in 2012 with the goal of accelerating the translation of basic research to new medicines that address unmet medical needs. Collaborations with researchers across the world expedite the translation of basic biomedical findings to new therapies, while enabling commercial partnerships are formed to bring these new medicines to the public.  Value created from these activities is reinvested in preclinical and clinical research at the institute to further its mission. For more information, see

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