New stem cell therapy promotes healing of meniscal injuries

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New stem cell therapy promotes healing of meniscal injuries

For the first time, a living bandage or cell bandage made from stem cells is used to treat a common knee injury. Researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol have trialed this revolutionary treatment on humans. The condition is meniscal tears, which is common among athletes, particularly those who play football or rugby.

Over 1 million people suffer meniscal tear annually. This tear occurs mostly in the center of the meniscus which is difficult to repair due to poor blood supply at the site. For many people especially athletes, the only solution is to remove the torn tissue surgically, but this puts the patient at risk of developing osteoarthritis in their later life. Cell bandage was developed by the company Azellon and trial funding was supported by Innovate UK. The study was published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine. This therapy is designed to allow meniscal tear heal itself by promoting cell growth in the affected tissue.

The prototype cell bandage was trialed on five people, aged from 18 to 45 years old suffering from white-zone meniscal tears. The bandage was made of stem cells from the patient's bone marrow, and the cells took two weeks to grow before implanted onto a membrane scaffolding that helps to deliver the cells to the injured site. Surgery is then required to sew the membrane into the torn cartilage.

By 24 months, three of the five patients had a normal knee, whilst the other two patients required surgical removal of the damaged meniscus due to a new tear or symptoms relapses. Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool and Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Azellon, said "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. "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."

Professor Blom commented that "the Cell Bandage offers an exciting potential new treatment option for surgeons that could particularly benefit younger patients and athletes by reducing the likelihood of early onset osteoarthritis after meniscectomy."

A spokesperson for Innovate UK said "Turning stem cell research into clinical and commercial reality requires close collaboration between businesses, universities, and Hospitals. It's great to see this inter-disciplinary approach has led to such an exciting outcome from this first-in-human trial."


University of Liverpool

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Stem cell ‘living bandage’ for knee injuries trialed in humans


Anthony Hollander

University of Liverpool
Therapeutic, Stem cells, Knee injury, Review
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