Cure for osteoarthritis in the pipeline

A decades-old drug could be a potential cure for osteoarthritis, which afflicts millions of Australians and costs the health system over a billion dollars a year.


Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium – used to treat blood clots and cystitis for 60 years – has successfully been tested on a small number of patients who have advanced osteoarthritis.

It worked so well for a 70-year-old Adelaide woman her pain score went from eight out of 10 to zero in a matter of weeks.

Her case study will be published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal.

The former horse rider had swollen knee joints associated with bone marrow edema lesions, considered to be the root cause of pain in advanced osteoarthritis.

She suffered excruciating pain that couldn’t be relieved by over-the-counter painkillers.

“I was like an invalid; it was very depressing,” she said.

She was treated with PPS injections twice a week for three weeks by her doctor – Professor Jegan Krishnan.

“The pain relief was almost immediate,” she said.

Subsequent MRI scans showed the bone marrow edema lesions had totally disappeared.

“I’m no longer on the list for a knee reconstruction; not even thinking about it anymore,” the woman said.

“I walk nearly 10 km every morning.”

Another 24 patients with BMEL and advanced osteoarthritis also showed marked improvement in pain scores and joint function after PPS treatment.

Paradigm Biopharma CEO Paul Rennie said the results are significant as they show the potential to ease pressure in the public hospital and health care system for treating osteoarthritic patients.

“As some of these patients were taken off a public hospital waiting list for total knee replacement, it saved them from this invasive and painful procedure,” he said.

It also saves the health care system the cost of the operation and replacement joint, he said.