Medics have discovered a new technique, based on using of stem cells, which facilitates the growth of new cartilage on the ball of the hip joint. This significant breakthrough involves the use of patients own stem cells to repair damaged joints and avoid the necessity of complicated and risky joint-replacement surgeries.
Also, scientists have stated that it is possible to use gene therapy in order to grant this new cartilage the ability to promote the flow of anti-inflammatory molecules into the surrounding tissues when needed. If applied to patients, the therapy can prevent the return of arthritis if it was a cause of the joint damage.
Farshid Guilak, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and one of lead researchers behind the findings, is confident that the methodology could be tested on human patients within three to five years and may ultimately be applied to repair other joints, such as knees and elbows.
The research paper – written by scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and a group of researchers Cytex Therapeutics, Inc. in Durham, North Carolina – was published on June 18, 2016 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 27 million Americans suffer osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage between two bones and wears it thin. Doctors often prescribe joint-replacement surgery in severe cases, at the same time medics are reluctant to perform these surgeries on patients under the age of 50 due to the reduced lifespan of prosthetic joints and high risk of the repeated follow-up surgery.
Professor Farshid Guilak and his team propose an alternative method to be tested and applied in future – most of the earlier research focused mainly on the repair of small areas of cartilage. However, a completely different approach is now being postulated: instead of fixing ?a pothole in the road?, scientists are intending to grow a replacement for the entire joint.
New methodology includes extraction of the stem cells from the patient?s fat tissues and seeding them in external woven scaffold in the shape of the the affected joint. Then a ?cocktail of proteins? is used to transform the stem cells into cartilage cells, that are spread throughout the woven scaffold over a period of six weeks.
The overall goal of the procedure is to remove the worn-out cartilage from the joint and to replace it with a newly-grown material.
Scott Wolf, President and Director of Research for Grace Century commented: ?Every day we are seeing breakthroughs and potential new uses for our own stem cells. Where will we be in 25 years??
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