Cartilage Grown From Blood Stem Cells To Replace Knee Replacement Surgery!
A research team from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, headed by Dr Saw Khay Yong has successfully regenerated the worn out cartilage in the knees of patients using their own stem cells extracted from blood.
Articular cartilage or joint cartilage that acts as biological cushion, covering the bone surfaces where joints meet in hips and knees cannot be replaced easily once it starts thinning. Thinning of this cartilage gradually leads to rubbing of bones against each other causing severe pain in the knees.
Stem cells present in the knee do not have the capacity to repair the damage caused, leaving the patients with swollen and painful joints.
With this fact, Dr Saw and his team initiated an experimental study in goats in 2005, which involved the usage of Bone Marrow Progenitor Cell (BMPC) injections in combination with hyaluronic acid (component essential to build cartilage). The injections were given in the knee joints after drilling holes in the knee bones and cartilage.
It was observed that the lost cartilage was regenerated in goats.
The positive results obtained in goats led to a pilot study in 10 humans. However, the stem cell source shifted from bone marrow to blood. Peripheral Blood Progenitor Cells (PBPC) extracted from patients’ own blood were used in this study, since they are known to possess the properties of proliferation and differentiation similar to embryonic stem cells.
Articular Cartilage Regeneration with Autologous Peripheral Blood Progenitor Cells (ACR) is the name of the treatment procedure.
The treatment begins with a ‘keyhole’ surgery, which is nothing but drilling holes in the knee bone of the patient. 7 days after this minimally invasive surgery, stem cells from the patient’s blood (PBPC) will be extracted and reintroduced into the patient’s knee along with hyaluronic acid.
Following this, the patient will have to undergo physiotherapy sessions for 2 hours on a daily basis and will be given hyaluronic acid and stem cell injections on a weekly basis for nearly 4-5 weeks.
The results of the pilot study on humans have been promising so far.
The team’s next aim is to conduct a clinical trial on a large and diverse group of people.