The revolutionary cell jab that could halt arthritis for millions
A revolutionary jab made from stem cells found in tummy fat could soon stop osteoarthritis in its tracks. The breakthrough provides hope for the eight million people in the UK who suffer from the incurable condition and could potentially save thousands from needing joint replacement surgery.
Dutch and French researchers found injecting stem cells harvested from a patient’s own waistline protects joints against crippling damage. It appears to be the closest experts have come to halting the disease using stem cells.
The therapy works by stopping destruction of cartilage – the ‘shock absorber’ tissue inside which gets ground down by osteoarthritis – and by protecting ligaments.
A single dose of stem cells extracted from adipose tissue – fat which accumulates around the stomach – more than halved damage to knee joints in mice. The findings, revealed at the American College of Rheumatology in Chicago, could mark a turning point in the search for a treatment.
Osteoarthritis can inflame and damage any joints, but occurs mostly in the knees and hips. Some joints become so severely worn down they require surgery.
As well as older age, risk factors include being overweight, a family history of the condition and sports-related injuries.
Many sufferers rely on anti-inflammatory painkillers to ease their suffering, but these can damage the stomach if used long-term. About 60,000 people a year end up needing a knee replacement.
Significantly, adipose tissue is relatively easy to access and is thought to be the most abundant source of adult stem cells in the body. According to some estimates, it contains 40 times more stem cells than bone marrow. Scientists are already using these fat cells in the search for cures for cancer, heart disease and spinal injuries.
Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France, injected adipose stem cells into the joints of mice with arthritic knees. Some mice received the jab seven days after osteoarthritis first set in, others 14 days after – which would translate into a few weeks or months in humans.
When it was given sooner, the jab cut destruction of cartilage by 54 per cent compared with those injected with a dummy jab. After six weeks, they had half the amount of ligament damage. The jab also slowed a process called synovial activation, where the soft membrane around the joint becomes inflamed, in some cases by as much as 30 per cent.
British experts and charities including Arthritis Care last night welcomed the latest research. Robert Moots, professor of rheumatology at the University of Liverpool, warned it was not yet certain how stem cells will behave in human joints. But he added: ‘It is the strongest clue yet that stem cell treatments could make a big difference.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2060551/The-revolutionary-cell-jab-halt-arthritis-millions.html