Krembil Research Institute in Toronto, Canada has reported that stem cells can significantly ease the pain of knee osteoarthritis, after concluding a small-scale clinical trial.

Researchers set out to determine if mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from bone marrow could regenerate knee cartilage, which could thereby cure the condition.

The results add to a growing amount of research that suggest stem cells could dramatically improve – and even reverse – the symptoms of osteoarthritis, which is particularly significant considering how prolific the condition is.

What did the study involve?

12 patients were treated with a single MSC injection. Cells were extracted from their bone marrow, and then re-injected into the blood stream.

Researchers monitored patients over the course of 12 months and monitored their levels of inflammatory biomarkers and rate of cartilage breakdown. They also took regular MRI scans of the affected joints.

What were the results?

The therapy did not result in any cartilage regrowth, despite the fact that similar studies have encouraged regeneration. Researchers did, however, propose that this may have been because patients had end-stage osteoarthritis. More successful regeneration may have occurred if they suffered earlier stages of the condition.

The study did, however, measure significant reductions in pain levels in patients, as well as a dramatic decline in inflammation. There were also no serious adverse events, which demonstrates the safety of mesenchymal stem cells in treating knee osteoarthritis.

Stem cells & knee osteoarthritis

This is just the latest study which indicates stem cells can treat knee osteoarthritis.

Between 2005 and 2009, Centeno et al. also treated two groups of patients with orthopaedic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, by administering mesenchymal stem cell injections. There were just three cases of potential stem cell complications of 227 patients, all of which were either self-limited or easily remedied with simple therapeutic measures. The study concluded that stem cell transplantation did not cause any adverse reaction.

References

Mary Gooderham, (2019), ‘Using stem cells to fight osteoarthritis at the source’, Krembil Neuroscience Centre, accessed 11 November 2019, available at <https://www.uhn.ca/KNC/Research/Globe_Mail/Arthritis_Magazine/Pages/Using-stem-cells-fight-osteoarthritis.aspx>

Centeno et al., (2015), ‘A multi-center analysis of adverse events among two thousand, three hundred and seventy two adult patients undergoing adult autologous stem cell therapy for orthopaedic conditions’,  accessed 11 November 2019, available at <https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00264-016-3162-y.pdf>

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