London, Oct 2 (IANS) Scientists have identified a new drug which has the potential to halt bone loss caused by osteoarthritis and tackle underlying bone structure changes in diseased joints. The findings showed that the new drug, known as M1V-711, can reduce bone damage around knee joints as well as maintain cartilage thickness after just six months of treatment. M1V-711, which is based on a molecule involved in the turnover of bone and cartilage in the joints, works by interfering with the process that leads to joint breakdown. "This drug heralds a new dawn in the treatment of this disease as it is the first evidence we have of a drug which can have a significant benefit on the structure of the bone," Philip Conaghan, professor at the University of Leeds, was quoted as saying to express.co.uk For the study, the team involved 244 patients aged between 40 and 80 with osteoarthritis in the knee. M1V-711 was tested against the patients given a placebo and those receiving the treatment showed a 65 per cent reduction in bone loss after six months with fewer side effects. Those on the placebo showed slight increases in bone loss. M1V-711 also halted cartilage loss, with those on low doses experiencing a 70 per cent reduction in cartilage thickness and those on higher doses showing a slight increase in cartilage thickness. "We now need larger studies to replicate these findings, the results of which we hope will open up a new class of drug," Conaghan said.