Stem cells treat osteoarthritis

Stem cells treat osteoarthritis

 22 Aug 2007 : 05:49PM


Murdoch researchers may have unlocked the key to treating the early onset of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis results in loss of cartilage which cannot repair itself after injury and for which there is no effective therapy. Current treatments attempt to alleviate painful symptoms but are unable to preserve the cartilage lining the joint.

Working with Australia's adult stem cell company, Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB), the University’s pre-clinical trials of Mesoblast’s patented adult stem cells had shown the therapy to significantly protect cartilage against damage in knee osteoarthritis.

The project’s principal investigator, Professor Rick Read from Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, said the studies have so far shown promising results.

"We are delighted with the significant cartilage protective effects of Mesoblast's allogeneic (donor unrelated) cells in our large animal model of knee osteoarthritis, without any adverse events of the cells at all," Professor Read said.

The results of the trials signalled Mesoblast's expansion of its clinical applications to inflammatory and degenerative diseases of joint cartilage, such as osteoarthritis, which affect millions of people world-wide.

Mesoblast's cartilage trials evaluated the effectiveness and safety of the company's allogeneic adult stem cells to treat osteoarthritis of the knee in 48 arthritic sheep joints.

The results showed that osteoarthritic sheep knee joints receiving Mesoblast's stem cells had significantly greater thickness of joint cartilage, reduced cartilage breakdown, and greater biomechanical strength three months later than did control joints receiving hyaluronic acid.

Mesoblast's Vice President of the Cartilage Regenerative Programs, Professor Peter Ghosh, a world-renowned expert in diseases of cartilage, said the results obtained at three months were very encouraging.

"Professor Read’s team at Murdoch University has been involved for almost 20 years in the development and refinement of this model for investigating new treatments for osteoarthritis,” Professor Ghosh said.

“We are very excited by the results of these studies using adult stem cells."

Professor Read said the project was another example of a productive collaboration between the University’s research experts and the industry.