Mater Research trial may offer new treatment for Ross River fever

Tuesday 01 August 2017

A Mater Research trial is underway to test a new treatment for Ross River fever.

The treatment, Pentosan Polysulfate Sodium (PPS) has been in use since the 1940s but may be useful in treating patients affected by the debilitating Ross River virus.

Mater’s Head of Infectious Diseases and Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland (MRI-UQ) researcher Dr Paul Griffin said patients with Ross River fever suffered from a range of significant impacts.

“Ross River fever can cause excruciating joint pain, impacting walking and movement, and can have detrimental effects on joint cartilage,” Dr Griffin said.

“Currently there is no treatment other than over the counter pain relief medication.”

Due to a climate which favours mosquitoes, Queensland is one of the worst states to be hit with Ross River virus outbreaks, with thousands of cases each year, according to state government figures. This year alone, there were nearly 1300 reported cases of Ross River virus.

Dr Griffin will be undertaking the Phase 2 clinical trial in collaboration with Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals and expects to recruit 24 patients in the first phase with patients randomly assigned to take placebo or active treatment.

Participants will be injected with the drug twice a week for six weeks and will be followed up for 102 days.

Targeted physical examinations and assessment of vital signs, pain and function will be regularly conducted to assess the effect of the drug.  Use of paracetamol medication will be recorded on a daily basis during the treatment period.

“If there is enough interest the number of participants would be increased and trial sites could be set up outside of Brisbane,” Dr Griffin said.

PPS has both anti-coagulative and anti-inflammatory effects, and has previously been used to prevent the formation of platelets during pre-operative procedures, as well as to treat bladder pain.

“As PPS has been around for some time it already has sufficient data on safety to allow it to be registered.  We are therefore very confident of the safety of this medication,” Dr Griffin said.