Many over 60s struggle with the day to day pain of knee issues, but amazing new developments in stem cell research have shown promise in one day getting rid of joint surgery altogether.
World-first Melbourne trials have successfully regrown damaged knee cartilage, paving the way for other trials on different joints in the body.
As arthritis sufferers well know, once that cartilage is gone, it’s a slow and painful road. But now doctors are hoping this stem cell discovery will make many joint replacements and other surgery unnecessary.
Doctors have halted damage caused by degenerative conditions, and even reversed it, in one of the first studies to use stem cells to rebuild cartilage in humans, reports the Courier-Mail.
The incredible results show half of those treated at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre saw a three-quarters reduction in pain and vastly improved knee function.
Two separate trials involving 70 patients have now shown huge results.
Chief clinical investigator Dr Julien Freitag said “The ability to see that the arthritis is not progressing is exciting — but to see reversal and regrowth in cartilage in some patients is incredibly exciting”.
“There are many avenues, not just within musculoskeletal, where stem cell therapy may revolutionise medicine. This is not just promise — we are actually seeing the reality of stem cell therapy now, which is exciting.”
The studies, done in partnership with Magellan Stem Cells and overseen by Monash and La Trobe universities, are the first Australian trials that have used a patient’s own stem cells and injected them into their own knee joints.
In one study, 30 osteoarthritis patients were given either stem cell treatment or a placebo, to see whether the cells stop damage or even rebuilt the knee. A second study of 40 patients with cartilage issues tried to determine whether stem cells could stop normal joint deterioration and arthritis.
Results out this week show two-thirds of the patients within both studies have experienced at least a halving of knee pain and movement restriction.
“Some patients have regrown a component of cartilage volume. In a progressive condition, to see a reversal is very exciting”, said Dr Freitag.
“We are also broadly seeing a minimal or lack of progression of their osteoarthritis”.