OsteoarthritisDefinition: Degenerative joint disease is another name for osteoarthritis and sometimes even referred to as osteoarthrosis. This is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs due to wearing down of cartilage in joints wears over time. This disorder most commonly affects the following joints:
- Lower back
Symptoms of osteoarthritis include: Pain in joints during or after movement, tenderness in joints on application of light pressure, Joint stiffness after a period of inactivity, Loss of flexibility in joints, Grating sensation on use of the joint, formation of Bone spurs (extra bits of bone, around the affected joint).
Taking steps to actively manage osteoarthritis may help gain control over the symptoms, in absence of cure.
Treatments and Stem cell therapy: Thus it is quite apparent that there is extensive degeneration of the bone joint with no cure in repair of joints in osteoarthritis. At present there is little effective treatment for osteoarthritis patients, apart from pain-relieving drugs and joint replacement.
Now, Stem cell therapy could provide a permanent, biological solution, with all sources of stem cells (embryonic, fetal and adult) showing some degree of potential. Stem cells are immature undeveloped cells that be turned into different kinds of tissue and grown in the laboratory.
Harvesting of cartilage cells from nearby healthy cartilage, is a current type of treatment for younger osteoarthritis patients. These are then transplanted into the affected area. As only a limited number of cells can be generated, this procedure has limitations. The patient has to undergo two surgical procedures and then go at limited weight bearing for six months.
A stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis is being tested on patients and the trials show successful potential in building up of therapies for the disorder.
As osteoarthritis affects the cartilage of the bone, one approach being pursued is mixing stem cells with cartilage cells in the lab and injecting them back into damaged knee joints. This new treatment could be an alternative to joint replacement surgery. The treatment shows promise of being long-term repair and permanent.
After removal of a patient's cartilage cells - also known as chondrocytes - and bone marrow stem cells using keyhole surgery and they are cultured and grown in a laboratory for three weeks. In this body's own cells are used to repair damaged joints. This new treatment should be permanent.
The cultured cells, will then be re-implanted separately in some patients, and mixed together in other patients, into the area of damaged or worn cartilage. It is a known fact that for the last 15 years, Chondrocytes - cartilage cells - have been grown in a lab and re-injected into patients' damaged knees. But the feasibility of a better treatment using the combination of cartilage cells and stem cells is under study.
The advantage of using bone marrow stem cells is that the hip cavity contains a source of multi-potent stem cells, platelets, growth factors, adhesion molecules, and other proteins responsible for tissue repair and regeneration.
Concentrated bone marrow contains: Bone Marrow - Mesenchemyl Stem (BM-MS) Cells for bone formation, Endothelial Stem Cells for supporting vasculature, Hematopoietic Stem Cells for supplying nutrients, Platelets to modulate the regeneration process, Adhesion Molecules.
The advantage that stem cell treatment has over joint replacement surgery is that it's much less invasive. Also as body's own cells are used to repair damaged joints, it's also a more "biological approach" as per researchers.
Clinical case reports in the treatment of orthopaedic conditions have been reported and they have primarily used mesenchymal (stem cells harvested from the iliac crest hip bone)stem cells. It has been shown that adequate safety and minimal complications are associated with mesenchymal cell transplantation.
Osteoarthritis does not stop the cell regeneration process, so knee cartilage injuries can be effectively repaired by tissue engineering.
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