Novogen is using flavonoid anti-inflammatory molecules (FAIMs) to treat arthritis in animal models, which one of the scientists involved said is a whole new concept in arthritis treatment. The results so far are positive enough to have left Novogen pondering future clinical development. Dr Cath Walker, who heads up anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular drug research at Novogen said: "This result provides encouragement that the FAIM concept should be pursued in human clinical studies. Our intention is to determine whether they will be effective in treatment of arthritis, back pain and other inflammatory conditions." The company has now demonstrated that FAIMs can inhibit inflammation both in vitro and in vivo and hopes that the molecules may prove superior to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), where serious side-effects can limit their use. FAIMs, on the other hand, were designed to avoid cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and renal side effects and may even be cardio-protective, according to Novogen. The research was conducted by Professor Michael James, the chief scientist at the Rheumatology Unit in the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He said: "These results are encouraging and suggest that the FAIM concept is valid and could lead to a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs that would not be expected to have the safety problems of the existing anti-inflammatory agents." Dr Walker said that the company has now established the mechanism of action of these compounds and that they don't interact with cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX1 and COX2), the targets of NSAID drugs. Scientists at Novogen have been researching isoflavonoid for over four years after it was discovered that the natural plant isoflavone, genistein, had broad anti-cancer, anti-atherosclerotic and anti-inflammatory effects. Having developed a library of synthetic analogues of genistein, they then tested the molecules for anticancer effects, anti-inflammatory effects, activity on blood vessels and finally estrogenic activity. They found at least one molecule in each of the four therapeutic areas that had activity higher than the original plant molecule and so set about doing further tests, the results of which are now beginning to bear fruit and provide new hope for arthritis sufferers.