Monday, April 28, 2008

Good News for Knees (Thanks to Adult Stem Cells)

Here's a report out of Melbourne, Australia describing the dramatic prospects for adult stem cell treatments for athletic knee injuries and other joint issues stemming from such maladies as osteoarthritis.

The biotech firm, Mesoblast, recently completed successful animal trials which saw the injection of adult stem cells derived from bone marrow, abdominal fat, hip, skin and teeth give greatly increased protection to damaged knee cartilage. And the company is now ready for human application trials, believing that they may be ready to create a "billion-dollar market" for their technique in just a few years.

Professor Silviu Itescu, Mesoblast's director and chief scientific adviser, said the injected stem cells bound themselves to the cartilage, halting its degeneration. "Is it that the cells are protecting the cartilage, or is it accelerating the rate of repair? At the moment, we don't know," he said. "Either way, the result is more cartilage, thicker cartilage."

The human trials, to be conducted both in Australia and the U.S., will involve about 80 patients who have had knee arthroscopes in the previous month.