New treatment could provide relief for people with knee pain
There may be new hope for people dealing with chronic joint issues. In a phase one clinical trial conducted in both France and Germany, researchers found giving patients a single low dose of their own stem cells provided osteoarthritis pain relief.
In the study, which appeared in the STEM CELLS Translational Medicine journal, researchers took 18 patients with symptomatic and severe osteoarthritis and injected one dose of stem cells directly into their knee. The patients were divided into three groups, with one group receiving a low dose (23,106) of cells, the second group a medium dose (103,106) and the third a high dose (503,106). After six months of follow-up, researchers saw no serious adverse effects, and treatment appeared to progress without any issues.
“While the goal of this small study was to evaluate the safety of using a patient’s own stem cells to treat osteoarthritis of the knee, it also showed that one group of patients experienced improvements in pain and function,” says Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, in Winston-Salem, N.C, and editor-of-chief of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine. “These results are encouraging, and it will be interesting to see if these improvements are seen in larger groups of study participants.”
A two-year phase II trial is now underway, involving 150 patients at 10 different clinical centers across Europe.
Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 25 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition, which breaks down the cartilage between the joints and worsens with age, leads to pain and swelling. The new research may offer a better alternative to current treatments.
“Some total knee replacements can be dangerous, and the recovery time can really be taxing to some individuals,” says Dr. Greg Primus, orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “You have to look at new treatment options because osteoarthritis affects people differently and can really affect their quality of life.”
As of now, no definitive treatment exists to stop joint degeneration. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis risk is driven by genetics, obesity, injury, joint overuse and other forms of arthritis.
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