Paradigm Biopharma’s knee osteoarthritis trial shows injectable drug can slow cartilage degradation

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals PAR ASX Zilosul cartilage knee osteoarthritis iPPS
New data from Paradigm’s phase 2b clinical trial demonstrates that injectable Pentosan Polysulfate Sulfate (iPPS) reduces cartilage degradation.

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals (ASX: PAR) has reported a breakthrough in its phase 2 clinical trial of the injectable pentosan polysulfate (iPPS) treatment drug Zilosul, showing it could act as a cartilage-protective agent and slow cartilage degradation in patients with progressive osteoarthritis of the knee.

The trial has demonstrated a significant reduction in the levels of two key biomarkers – cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP) and ADAMTS-5 – which are associated with cartilage degradation and elevated in the serum of people with advancing osteoarthritis.

During the trial, the levels of COMP in the serum of patients treated with the iPPS showed a mean percentage reduction of 11.9% from baseline at day one to day 53, compared to the placebo group which showed a mean percentage increase of 2.1%.

In parallel, ADAMTS-5 – the key enzyme involved in the degradation of aggrecan in cartilage – showed a mean percentage reduction of 5.1% in the serum of iPPS-treated subjects compared to a mean percentage increase of 10% in the placebo group.

Reliable indicators

COMP and ADAMTS-5 reside in the cartilage and are considered reliable indicators of progressively-worsening osteoarthritis.

As the cartilage around the joint breaks down, the biomarkers are released into the blood.

Patients with elevated levels of these biomarkers in their blood are diagnosed as having an increased level of cartilage degeneration which is the hallmark of progressive osteoarthritis.

The trial data supports iPPS as a cartilage-protective agent which could potentially block the progression of knee osteoarthritis.

Protecting cartilage

Paradigm said the “groundbreaking discovery” suggests that using Zilosul can protect cartilage from progressive degradation as well as reduce pain and improve joint function in osteoarthritic patients.

“It appears to indicate that treatment with Zilosul protects, slows or stops the cartilage around the joint from degrading – slowing the progression of the disease,” it said.

“It adds to the clinical evidence that Zilosul could materially impact the progression of a disease that previously was thought to have no effective disease modifying treatment options.”

Paradigm is expecting the release of more biomarker data in the coming months.

Osteoarthritis biomarkers

A biomarker is a naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular pathological or physiological process or disease can be identified.

In the case of progressive osteoarthritis, several molecules are released from the bone and are known to be associated with the breakdown of cartilage.

Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals iPPS placebo Phase 2b osteoarthritis trial endpoints
Mean percentage changes of the biomarkers COMP and ADAMTS-5 in the serum of subjects treated with iPPS or Placebo

COMP is the biomarker which is the most investigated to predict knee osteoarthritis progression.

ADAMTS-5 (or A disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs-5) is the main enzyme which degrades aggrecan – a major component found in animal and human osteoarthritis articular cartilage.

The loss of COMP and ADAMTS-5 from cartilage – without the compensatory synthesis of new macromolecules to replace those lost through the process – can significantly compromise the biomechanical strength of articular cartilage, leading to its degradation.

At mid-morning, shares in Paradigm were up 14.58% to $1.65.

Imelda Cotton has over 20 years experience as a journalist and communications professional. She has spent the bulk of her career in the resources sector, having also worked directly with oil and gas majors and as a journalist covering a vast array of ASX listed companies within the resources, energy, science and health sectors.