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Caterpillar fungus could hold key to new osteoarthritis treatments
The caterpillar fungus Cordyceps militaris could hold the key to new treatments for osteoarthritis.

Active compound can reduce pain and halt disease progression

A fungus that infects caterpillars, Cordyceps militaris, could hold the key to new treatments for osteoarthritis, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that an active compound in the fungus, cordycepin, could reduce pain and halt disease progression.

Scientists say it works by blocking inflammation in an entirely different way to any other pain killer - by repressing a process called polyadenylation - and could be used to help patients for which other treatments have failed.

The study was led by the University of Nottingham and funded by the charity ‘Versus Arthritis’.

“We hope that cordycepin will prove to be the founder of a new class of pain killer,” explained Dr Cornelia De Moor from the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy. “There is a long way to go before a cordycepin-derived medicine reaches patients, but our work is very promising, we are very excited about the prospects.”

Previous work by the University of Nottingham found that cordycepin had anti-inflammatory effects in both cartilage and bone. In this study, researchers administered the compound to rats and mice with osteoarthritis and found that it both reduced pain behaviour and structural damage.

Interestingly, researchers found that cordycepin blocked the inflammation by affecting the last stage of making a messenger RNA, Polyadenylation.

Current treatment options for osteoarthritis are limited to lifestyle changes and reducing pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or opioids. But these have limited efficacy and come with unpleasant side effects.

The team hope that the results from this new research will provide a more effective treatment for osteoarthritis that is less toxic and will, therefore, have fewer side effects for patients.

Dr Stephen Simpson from Versus Arthritis said: “Although in its early stages, the study has great potential suffering pain of musculoskeletal conditions and demonstrated the high value and impact of novel discovery-led research on understanding and treating diseases.”

Image (C) Jose Ramon Pato, Coruña, España.

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New York to ban sale of foie gras

News Story 1
 New York City councillors have voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation that will see the ban of foie gras in the city. The move, which comes in response to animal cruelty concerns, will take effect in 2022.


 Councillor Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, told the New York Times that her bill “tackles the most inhumane process” in the commercial food industry. “This is one of the most violent practices, and it’s done for a purely luxury product,” she said.


 Foie gras is a food product made of the liver of a goose or duck that has been fattened, often by force-feeding. New York City is one of America’s largest markets for the product, with around 1,000 restaurants currently offering it on their menu. 

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Humane Slaughter Association student scholarships open for applications

Applications for the Humane Slaughter Association’s student/trainee Dorothy Sidley Memorial Scholarships are now open.

The Scholarships provide funding to enable students or trainees in the industry to undertake a project aimed at improving the welfare of food animals during marketing, transport and slaughter. The project may be carried out as an integral part of a student's coursework over an academic year, or during the summer break.

The deadline for applications is midnight on the 28 February 2020. To apply and for further information visit www.hsa.org.uk/grants or contact the HSA office.