Trials of a pioneering new stem cell treatment for osteoarthritis sufferers have been announced.
Up to 70 people will take part in the study which will see stem cells grown in a laboratory for three weeks before being implanted back into the patient in the hope that they will form new cartilage over a period of several months.
The trial, funded by Arthritis Research UK, will see mesenchymal stem cells removed from bone marrow using keyhole surgery before being injected back into the affected area.
Patients will also be treated with cultured cartilage cells called chondocytes – more mature cells that are already used to repair small areas of joint damage, but not osteoarthritis.
It is hoped the treatment will reduce the number of hip and knee replacements that take place every year as a result of the condition which affects an estimated eight million people in the UK.
The vast majority of hip and knee replacements that take place every year in the UK are as a result of the patient suffering from osteoarthritis which causes damage to the cartilage, resulting in painful inflammation and bony growths in affected areas.
The trial is part of a £500,000 five-year research programme launched at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire, and will begin later this year.
Copyright Press Association 2010