This article is interesting because the UK has been typically focused on embryonic stem cell research. They are now accepting the benefits of safety of adult stem cells and putting their research time and money into it. Perhaps the US should follow suit so they are not the last kid on the block to get their “big wheel” or “x-box?” – dg
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Stem cell therapy ‘first’ in trial on arthritic knees
BBC news A stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis is to be tested on patients in the UK for the first time.
A year-long trial, funded by Arthritis Research UK, will mix stem cells with cartilage cells in the lab and inject them back into damaged knee joints.
The new treatment could be an alternative to joint replacement surgery, experts hope. Scientists from Keele University will study up to 70 people from the end of this year. The trial will be run at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire as part of a five-year research programme. Three treatments are being tested in a randomised trial of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Using keyhole surgery, a patient’s cartilage cells – also known as chondrocytes – and bone marrow stem cells will be removed and grown in a laboratory for three weeks. We are using the body’s own cells to repair damaged joints. The hope is that it will be permanent and long-term.
Professor Sally Roberts, Keele University
They will then be re-implanted separately in some patients, and mixed together in other patients, into the area of damaged or worn cartilage. Scientists will then test the effectiveness of all three types of cell therapy, based on the quality of the new cartilage formed over a period of 12 months. Chondrocytes – cartilage cells – have been grown in a lab and re-injected into patients’ damaged knees for the last 15 years. But scientists now want to find out if combining cartilage cells and stem cells in the same process could work better, and specifically if one type of cell stimulates the other.
Osteoarthritis affects an estimated 8m people in the UK. The condition is caused by wear and tear to the surface of joints, leading to stiffness and pain. At present there is little effective treatment for osteoarthritis patients, apart from pain-relieving drugs and joint replacement. The trial will focus on knee joints, but the results could have implications for other joints, say the scientists. The advantage of stem cell treatment is that it’s much less invasive than major joint replacement surgery. Sally Roberts, professor of orthopaedic research at Keele University and lead scientist on the trial, says it’s also a more “biological approach”.
“We are using the body’s own cells to repair damaged joints.
The hope is that it will be permanent and long-term repair,” she said.