Therapeutic Targets and Pain Stratification for Patients with Osteoarthritis


­Identification of a number of differentially-expressed genes in bone marrow lesions for stratification of patient pain.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease characterised by the deterioration of cartilage in joints resulting in bones rubbing together creating pain and impaired movement. According to the World Health Organisation OA is one of the ten most disabling diseases in developed countries and they estimate that 9.6% of men and 18.0% of women aged over 60 years have symptomatic OA (WHO, 2019).

Pain is the symptom driving individuals to seek medical attention, as this contributes to functional limitations and reduced quality of life. This highlights the need for greater insight into patient pain management.

Pain in OA is thought to arise from several structures within the arthritic joint, including the synovium via which inflammatory mediators are released (2). Synovitis is often observed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in OA and strongly correlates with pain (3). Cartilage degradation is one of the hallmarks of OA disease (4), and recent interest has grown in the importance of bone marrow lesions (BMLs) in relation to OA pain. Epidemiological studies have shown a strong correlation between BMLs observed by MRI and OA-related knee pain in several large cohorts (5,6).


(1) World Health Organization. (2019). Chronic rheumatic conditions. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2019].

(2) Sofat et al, Rheumatology, 2011, 50(12):2157-65

(3) Roemer et al, Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2010; 18: 1269-74

(4) Roy et al, Ann Rheum Dis. 1968; 27: 544-58

(5) Felson et al, Ann. Internal Med.2001; 134: 541-549

(6) Sowers et al, Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 2003; 11: 387-93

Technology Overview

Researcher’s at St George’s have combined MRI, clinical assessment of pain and gene expression profiling and have identified a series of differentially expressed genes in bone marrow lesions (BMLs) in patients with OA. These biomarkers also have the potential to be used as therapeutic targets for the treatment of OA and/or pain associated with OA and are protected by a patent application.


- Development of diagnostic assays to test human/animal samples to identify OA and OA associated pain.

- Developed novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and inflammation in OA.


St George’s are now looking to collaboratively develop a diagnostic assay using the biomarker series that can be used in the clinic to more effectively diagnose OA and measure OA associated pain. The patent family WO 2018/154337 protecting the biomarker series is also available for collaborative development of therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain in OA and exclusive licensing.




- Development partner

- Licensing

IP Status

- Patent application submitted

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Ana Ara├║jo
St George's University of London
Nidhi Sofat
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