A study by Canadian scientists showed that the patient’s own mesenchymal stem cells from the patient’s own bone marrow holds great interest as a potential therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee joint (KOA) because of the unique ability to repair damaged cartilage.
KOA is a common disease of an aging population, characterized by degradation of articular cartilage, destruction of the underlying bone and accompanied by severe pain. In the latter stages of the disease, joint replacement is recommended as a treatment.
In the first clinical trial of this kind to take place in Canada, for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers used mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), obtained from the patient’s own bone marrow under local anesthesia. The results were published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM).
The study was conducted by a team of scientists from the Arthritis Program at the Krembil Research Institute, University Health Network, Toronto, led by Sowmya Viswanathan, Ph.D., and Jaskarndip Chahal, M.D.
“Our goal was to test for safety as well as to gain a better understanding of MSC dosing, mechanisms of action and donor selection”, – Dr. Viswanathan said.
The study involved 12 patients aged 45 to 65 years with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee joint. They were divided into three groups, each of which received a different dose of mesenchymal stem cells. All patients were injected with their own cells.
Next, researchers monitored patients for the next 12 months using analytical methods, including visualization, biomarkers, molecular fingerprinting, and their own assessment of the patient’s condition.
At the end of the 12-month period, the team noted a significant reduction in pain and improved quality of life for patients. The study also showed that the MSCs were safe in all the tested doses and that the higher the dose, the more effective the outcome.
Dr. Viswanathan said, “We also obtained novel insights into a potential anti-inflammatory mechanism of action of these cells in osteoarthritic knee joints. We noted that donor heterogeneity is an important factor, and our assembled panel of genes helps us identify cells which are potent in osteoarthritis. These are important findings which we hope to translate into a larger, powered clinical trial as part of our next steps.”
“Furthermore”, – added Dr. Chahal, “we have been able to show that through an anti-inflammatory mechanism of action, such patients have an improvement in pain, function and quality of life. This sets the stage for the future of cell-based therapy and trials in Canada.”
“This clinical pilot study advances the field of stem cell research for patients with arthritis, showing safety, and giving insights into potential therapy efficacy guidelines”, – said Anthony Atala, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of STEM CELLS Translational Medicine and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. “We look forward to larger scale trial results.”