Managing osteoarthritis with monoclonal antibodies

A promising new treatment

Between 20-40% of all dogs will suffer from osteoarthritic pain at some point in their lives. This pain is not just due to simple inflammation, but to a multitude of factors involving nerves and joints. It has systemic effects, including a cognitive effect, says Duncan Lascelles, professor of translational pain research and management at North Carolina State University.

Prostaglandins have been the poster children of pain agents, but nerve growth factor (NGF) can also be involved. Damaged tissues lead to an increase in NGF, which in turn attracts inflammatory cells. New research is being done to develop monoclonal antibodies against NGF.

Monoclonal antibodies against something like NGF are species-specific. For dogs, the current versions are ranevetmab and bedinvetmab (brand name Librela), which have already been approved in the European Union for use in dogs. Studies have shown that one injection of these compounds leads to an improvement in comfort and mobility for at least eight weeks. The dogs are better off than if they had been given nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which have been the mainstay drugs for osteoarthritis.

The use of these monoclonal antibodies against NGF has shown some serious side effects in humans, but not in dogs at this time. We will keep an eye on this ongoing research as a future treatment option for your arthritic dog.

This article has been reprinted with permission from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s DogWatch newsletter, published by Belvoir Media Group. When you become a member of the Riney Canine Health Center, you will receive a free subscription to DogWatch.