Stem cells and degenerative arthritis

New research from the Saarland University Medical Center in Germany says stem cells, no matter where it comes from, or how it is used, regrows cartilage: The highlights of this study:

  • Different stem cell sources have been explored as solutions for cartilage lesions and osteoarthritis treatments such as bone marrow, adipose tissue, synovial tissue, and peripheral blood.
  • A review of recent studies found:
    • No major adverse events have been reported.
    • A clinical benefit has been shown in most of the studies regardless of the cell-source processing method and clinical indication, with clinical improvements and also positive MRI and macroscopic findings.
    • Moreover, some factors that may influence the outcome have been identified, such as age, body mass index (BMI), lesion size or degenerative stage. 1

Researchers in Malayasia have followed up previously published research with new data that shows stem cell therapy regrows cartilage. In 2014 these same investigators found that Adipose stem cells (ADSC) and bone marrow stem cells (BMSC), regenerated cartilage in sheep who had surgically induced knee osteoarthritis. 1 One year later they say that the stem cell therapy tissue engineered cartilages provided evidence of functional recoveries associated to the structural regenerations, and their mechanical properties were comparable with the native cartilage.2 “Good as new.”

Research in August 2015 on knee cartilage in sheep suggest the same, “good as new,” results. Doctors say: “The tissue engineered cartilages provided evidence of functional recoveries associated to the structural regenerations, and their mechanical properties were comparable with the native cartilage.”3 Stem Cell therapy regenerated the cartilage tissue and knee functionality.

Knee cartilage regeneration with stem cells – a newly published research paper of stem cell therapy for cartilage regeneration sums up the challenges and opportunities of treating patients with stem cell therapy.

“The therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) is evident by the number of new and ongoing trials targeting an impressive variety of conditions. In bone and cartilage repair, MSCs are expected to replace the damaged tissue, whilst in other therapies they modulate a therapeutic response by the secretion of bioactive molecules. “4

The rush to regenerate cartilage can be seen in the failure of steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medications. Although cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to produce short-term pain benefit, both result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration.

The articular cartilage is especially vulnerable to damage and has poor potential for regeneration because of the absence of vasculature (blood supply) within the tissue. Normal load-bearing capacity and biomechanical properties of thinning cartilage are severely compromised during the course of disease progression.

Although surgical and pharmaceutical interventions are currently available for treating osteoarthritis, restoration of normal cartilage function has been difficult to achieve. . . . bone marrow-derived ‘mesenchymal stem cells’ or ‘mesenchymal stromal cells’ appear to be ideally suited for therapeutic use in cartilage regeneration.”5

 

1. Cucchiarini M, de Girolamo L, Filardo G, et al. Basic science of osteoarthritis. Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics. 2016;3(1):22. doi:10.1186/s40634-016-0060-6. [Pubmed]

2. Ude CC, et al. Cartilage regeneration by chondrogenic induced adult stem cells in osteoarthritic sheep model. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 9;9(6):e98770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098770. eCollection 2014. [Pubmed]

3.Ude CC, et al. Improved functional assessment of osteoarthritic knee joint after chondrogenically induced cell treatment. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Aug;23(8):1294-306. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Apr 14. [Pubmed]

4. Heldring N, Mäger I, Wood M, Le Blanc K, El Andaloussi S. Therapeutic potential of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells and their extracellular vesicles. Hum Gene Ther. 2015 Jul 8. [Pubmed]

5. Gupta PK, Das AK, Chullikana A, Majumdar AS. Mesenchymal stem cells for cartilage repair in osteoarthritis. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2012;3(4):25. [Pubmed]

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