Eating our greens may have even more health benefits than we first anticipated.
An artificial version of an ingredient in broccoli could prove to be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, say researchers.
The broccoli compound sulforophane is known to block the inflammation and damage to cartilage associated with the condition.
But patients would have to eat a great deal of the vegetable every day to derive any significant benefit. Sulforophane in its natural form is also too unstable to turn into a medicine.
Now the UK drug company Evgen Pharma has developed a stable synthetic version of the chemical that offers the potential of a pill treatment.
A single dose of the drug, known as Sulforadex or SFX-01, is equivalent to eating around 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of broccoli in one day.
In tests on mice affected by osteoarthritis, Sulforadex significantly improved bone architecture, gait balance and movement.
Professor Andrew Pitsillides, who co-led the research at the Royal Veterinary College in London, said: "These initial results are very positive for such an experiment and we have convinced ourselves that sulforaphane is a promising agent for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
"However, the clinical development of sulforaphane has been held back by the fact that it is inherently unstable. Thus, SFX-01 is a major advance in this area.
"Nearly nine million people in the UK have osteoarthritis and it costs the NHS more than £5 billion every year. There is no cure or effective treatment for the disease other than pain relief or joint replacement, so the potential for SFX-01 is massive."
Results from the study were presented at the 4th Joint Meeting of European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) and the International Bone and Mineral Society (IBMS) in Rotterdam.