The University of Manchester in the UK is looking for a commercial partner or partners to co-develop a novel protein-based treatment that “could be of major benefit” in bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

The call comes from the university’s intellectual property commercialisation company, UMIP, which has a 12-month licence under an exclusive option from the University of Oxford to conduct further research with TSG-6, a human protein produced by the body at sites of inflammation, and to take the technology forward into global markets.

TSG-6 not only has anti-inflammatory properties but is a potent inhibitor of bone resorption by osteoclasts, ongoing research at the Universities of Manchester and Oxford has shown. According to UMIP, the protein could be “of significant interest” to the pharmaceutical industry worldwide as a potential treatment for many common and debilitating conditions associated with bone loss.

The technology now being offered for partnership was originally discovered by Professor Tony Day, Dr Caroline Milner and Dr Afsie Sabokbar at the University of Oxford.

Professor Day, who is now based at the University of Manchester, commented: “The properties of TSG-6 make this naturally occurring human protein an excellent candidate for the development of improved treatments for diseases associated with abnormal rates of bone erosion.  Aside from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, these include Paget’s disease and the bone loss associated with metastatic cancers. TSG-6 could also have applications in improved bone fracture healing in the elderly.”

The cost of treating osteoporotic fractures in post-menopausal women in the UK is expected to reach £2.1 billion by 2020, while the current global market for osteoporosis is worth more than US$9 billion, UMIP points out.