Ground Breaking Research Could Revolutionize Knee Injury Treatments

10 January 2017
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Category: Blog
10 January 2017, Comments: Comments Off on Ground Breaking Research Could Revolutionize Knee Injury Treatments

knee pain2Perhaps no part of the body becomes as used and abused through athletic activity as the knee. Meniscal tears and other painful knee problems are extremely common, with more than one million meniscal tears occurring in America and Europe alone every year. Intense contact sports like football, soccer, and rugby make such injuries even more likely, but unfortunately 90 percent of meniscal tears are located in the white zone of the meniscus where no blood flows. Without blood, the repair process becomes considerably more difficult. This is exactly why scientists at the University of Liverpool and University of Bristol have been collaborating to develop a “living bandage” made of stem cells that has the potential to totally transform knee injury treatment as we know it.

The Stem Cell Bandage

The researchers in this endeavor harvested stem cells from each of five patient’s own bone marrow, then grew the stem cells for two weeks. After two weeks, the stem cells were seeded onto a membrane scaffold, much like grass seed might be applied to a lawn. The membrane scaffold is designed to efficiently deliver stem cells to the injury. Once all stem cells were safely in place, the “Cell Bandage” was surgically implanted into the middle of each patient’s meniscal tear. Cartilage was sewn around the Cell Bandage to keep it steady, and the patients were then tracked for the next two years.

According to Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool, “The Cell Bandage trial results are very encouraging and offer a potential alternative to surgical removal that will repair the damaged tissue and restore full knee function.” Within one year of implementation, all five patients boasted an intact meniscus, and after two years, three of the five patients had achieved normal knee functionality.

Encouraged by the positive results, Hollander explained that, “We are currently developing an enhanced version of the Cell Bandage using donor stem cells, which will reduce the cost of the procedure and remove the need for two operations.” This human trial proves just how much potential stem cells hold to replace risky surgery and help true healing occur.