Published: 31 Jul 2017 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 15:41:56

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and Evgen Pharma, a clinical stage drug development company, have secured funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for a 4-year PhD studentship focused on investigating treatment for osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a condition which affects joints, causing pain and stiffness. There are now almost 9 million people in the UK suffering from hand, foot, spine, hip and knee osteoarthritis. There is currently no cure nor treatment for osteoarthritis and sufferers are destined to receive palliative pain relief up until a time when joint replacement remains the only option.

The BBRSC funding for this Industrial Co-operative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) PhD Studentship, will allow the RVC and Evgen Pharma to build upon a prior collaboration investigating the potential of the drug SFX-01 as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

The RVC has long been at the forefront of the One Health initiative, which considers the interrelationships between human and animal health. Previous research by the team from the Skeletal Biology Group at the RVC, led by Professor Andrew Pitsillides, showed that mice with spontaneously-arising osteoarthritis demonstrated significantly improved bone architecture and preservation of normal movement following three months of SFX-01 treatment. This new grant-funded project, part of the London interdisciplinary doctoral training program, will seek to understand the mechanism of action behind these beneficial effects.

Professor Andrew Pitsillides said: “Myself and my colleagues Drs Isabel Orriss and Behzad Javaheri in the RVC’s Skeletal Biology Group are very excited by the prospect of working with Evgen Pharma to identify the cellular and molecular targets by which SFX-01 exerts its beneficial actions in osteoarthritis.”

Evgen Pharma is a clinical stage drug development company which focuses on the treatment of cancer and neurological conditions. CEO Dr Stephen Franklin commented: “As a Company we remain focussed on the delivery of our current Company sponsored clinical trials and our strategic focus is in cancer and neurology. We will however provide SFX-01 to a limited number of world leading academics and clinical groups that wish to investigate SFX-01 in alternative therapeutic areas if they can demonstrate a robust clinical plan, source their own non-dilutive grant funding and we retain commercialisation rights. We, and the RVC, are delighted that the BBSRC is funding this programme and it is another step towards the possibility of a future, grant funded, clinical trial on SFX-01 in osteoarthritis”.

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Notes to Editors

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees.  It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.

A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.

The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

About Evgen Pharma plc

Evgen Pharma is a clinical stage drug development company whose lead programmes are in breast cancer and subarachnoid haemorrhage, a type of stroke. It is also carrying out preclinical work in multiple sclerosis and has a clinical interest in prostate cancer. The Company’s core technology is Sulforadex®, a method for synthesising and stabilising the naturally occurring compound sulforaphane and novel proprietary analogues based on sulforaphane. The lead product, SFX-01, is a patented composition of synthetic sulforaphane and alpha-cyclodextrin.

Evgen Pharma commenced operations in January 2008 and has its headquarters at The Colony, Wilmslow, Cheshire, and its registered office is at the Liverpool Science Park, Liverpool. It joined the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in October 2015 and trades under the ticker symbol EVG.

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RVC Press Release 31 July 2017

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