Potential treatment for osteoarthritis found in synthetic version of broccoli compound

Taking a cue from recent studies about capabilities of cruciferous vegetables such as sprouts, cabbage and especially broccoli in easing symptoms of osteoarthritis, researchers have managed to create a synthetic and stable form of sulforaphane that has shown promising results into easing symptoms of the chronic joint condition.

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London have shown through their tests that the compound is capable of blocking certain enzymes that destroy the joint cartilage and also processes that cause the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Sulforaphane is released from broccoli upon digestion, but patients would have to eat the vegetable in significant quantities daily to alleviate any symptoms of the condition.

This is where the synthetic version of sulforaphane comes into play; however formulating the compound into a medicine has also proved difficult because of presence of an unstable molecule that renders it impossible to manufacture into a regular pill format. [Related: Potential painkiller for osteoarthritis derived from caterpillar fungus]

But UK pharmaceutical company, Evgen Pharma, who worked in collaboration with the RVC for this experiment, has synthesised a stable version of sulforaphane and incorporated it into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01). A single dose of the product provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5kg of broccoli in a single day.

Professor Andrew Pitsillides who is Professor of Skeletal Dynamics at the RVC said: “These initial results are very positive for such an experiment and we have convinced ourselves that sulforaphane is a promising agent for the treatment of osteoarthritis”

“However, the clinical development of sulforaphane has been held back by the fact that it is inherently unstable. Thus, SFX-01 is a major advance in this area.”

Previous research studies have suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and human trials are already underway in these areas. But as SFX-01 is now seen as a viable treatment for arthritic joints, further pre-clinical testing and then human clinical trials are now needed. [Related: Paracetamol ineffective against lower back pain, osteoarthritis; may affect liver]

Professor Pitsillides added that there are nearly nine million people in the UK who suffer from osteoarthritis and with no cure or effective treatment for the condition, it costs the NHS more than £5 billion every year for pain relief medicines and joint replacements.

“Potential for SFX-01 is massive”, the professor concludes.