7 November 2016
Treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) utilising mesenchymal stem
cells (MSCs) has become a focus of interest according to a report
in the latest issue of the Australia and New Zealand Journal of
Surgery (ANZJS), the peer-review publication of the Royal
Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS).
OA is a degenerative disease that causes pain, stiffness and
decreased function and the article poses the question ̶ could the
use of MSCs be a legitimate treatment option?
The report suggests that the successful regeneration of
cartilage could represent a new minimally invasive, non-surgical
alternative to microfracture and subchondral drilling.
Presently, there are various treatment options for OA including
those that are reserved for defects less than 2-3cm² and in
patients younger than 40 years of age.
MSCs are adult stem cells found in human tissue including bone
marrow and fatty tissue (adipose).
Once matured, the stem cells are injected into the damaged joint
or embedded into the area of defect.
According to the article patients
have reported improvement in symptoms using this method.
Authors of a study mentioned in the article have reported
encouraging results from the use of MSCs with platelet-rich-plasma
and arthroscopic lavage or cleansing, however say that it is not
possible to determine whether the improvements are due to the MSCs
Implantation of MSCs might be a viable treatment alternative for
patients suffering from knee OA, but the authors say there is no
published clinical data on the long-term outcomes and complications
of this treatment or the ideal dose of MSC therapy.
Some Australian clinics are reportedly using MSC therapy to
treat advanced knee OA although the issue of safety has not yet
been established and the National Medical Research Council has so
far not recommended the use of MSCs for the treatment of knee
The article says that patients ultimately need to make their own
informed decisions and medical practitioners have a responsibility
to ensure that patients understand the potential risks prior to any
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