Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of cartilage
loss. It is the leading cause of knee joint pain and disability among the
elderly and affects over 10 million
people in the US. Over the last few years, several methods have been developed techniques to
trepair the damaged cartilage of the knee joint .
Scientists at the University of Bristol report
some success with stem cell therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis damage
Similarly, according to scientists at the Cardiff
University, stem cells can be turned into cartilage cells and this cartilage
can be transplanted in an affected joint.
Stem cells can be obtained from:
• Embryonic stem cells
• Normal healthy volunteers
• Autologous stem cells are obtained from bone marrow in the iliac crest of
the same individual.
These British scientists have concluded that osteoarthritis
does not stop the cell regeneration process
, so knee cartilage injuries
can be effectively repaired by tissue engineering.
The study has proved that engineered cartilage tissue
formed from the stem cells can grow and mature when implanted into patients
with a knee injury
. Therefore the scientists believe that the tissue
engineering approach can be beneficial for cartilage regeneration even in knees
affected by osteoarthritis.
ARC Professor of Rheumatology & Tissue Engineering at
the Bristol University, Anthony Hollander said that tissue-engineered cartilage
implanted into knees showing signs of osteoarthritis can mature within a year
Professor Anthony Hollander and his team have been
successful in autologous stem cell transplant
human cartilage from a patient's own stem cells. Implanting such cartilages
grown from the stem cells of the same person avoids immune rejection problems.
Successful repair of osteoarthritis cartilage damage
depends on its ability to form a matrix within the joint.
During the study some patients did not benefit from this
treatment. According to Professor Hollander the reason why not all patients
benefited from the engineered cartilage is not yet totally clear. But he
believes that giving the engineered tissue a longer time to settle in may be
Older patients with osteoarthritis have cartilage that is
less responsive to stem cell stimulation. Their stem cells respond less to
usual growth factors.
Scientists used stem cells obtained from the bone marrow.
It took about a month to grow these stem cells into a cartilage of half-inch
An American team of scientists is also studying a
stem cell approach using a single donor for multiple patients.
With multiple teams doing human clinical trials in this area the
development of successful joint repair using stem cell therapies is not a