InterHealth's proprietary UC-II, launched in 2002, is derived from chicken sternum cartilage and consists of type II native collagen. The company says the ingredient works with the immune system to promote joint health.
In the study, showcased at SupplySide West, UC-II was seen to provide superior pain relief to glucosamine and chondroitin, supporting its use as a standalone or combination ingredient. InterHealth hopes the results will pave the way for comparative clinical trials with humans.
Conducted at Murray State University's Breathitt Veterinary Center in Kansas, the study's results were originally presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology in San Diego.
"We first needed to do a pet study to get approval for a human study," InterHealth vice president of international sales, Darryl Mircheff, told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
Approval for conducting human clinical trials generally comes from the National Institute for Health, but not until a gamut of lab and animal tests have first been performed.
"Dogs are the best non-human study," said Mircheff. "They react the same way as humans to pain relief."
In the double-blinded study, 20 overweight arthritic dogs were divided into four groups, with treatment given to them for 120 days followed by a 30-day withdrawal period. The first group was administered a placebo; the second 10mg of UC-II; the third 2000mg of glucosamine HCI with 1,600mg of chondroitin sulfate; and the third UC-II with glucosamine HCI and chrondroitin sulfate.
The group of dogs given UC-II in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin fared better than those given glucosamine and chondroitin alone, while UC-II appeared to relieve pain more effectively over the long term (after 120 days) than the short term.
Apart from decreasing overall pain, UC-II also decreased painful limb movement and lameness by 91 percent and 78 respectively. The combination of UC-II, glucosamine and chondroitin reduced overall pain by 57 percent, and both pain with limb movement and lameness by 53 percent.
Except for the placebo group, all dogs experienced a relapse in pain one month after treatment was stopped. No adverse effects or changes in liver, heart or kidney function markers, body weight or temperature were observed.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in three Americans - almost 66 million individuals - suffer from daily joint discomfort, representing a massive opportunity for companies that can provide them with safe respite.
The joint health category has been a busy place in the last couple of years, since the Vioxx scandal caused consumers to cast about for side-effect-free natural alternatives to prescription medicines.
Although there have been several drum-rolls introducing new ingredients - such as Litozin from Danish rose hip (Europharma), Nexrutine from the bark of the phellodendron tree, and (Next Pharmaceuticals), and milk protein Microlactin (DNP), as well as new studies on methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) - none looks set to touch the success of glucosamine just yet, which is estimated to be worth $400m in the US and $100m in Europe.