A scientist at the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre with a patient’s liposuction sample. Photo: Michael Clayton-JonesLast Wednesday, Lisa Lark, 54, underwent liposuction – not to lose weight but so her body fat could be filtered for stem cells as part of a clinical trial to slow the progress of osteoarthritis.
The trial, run by the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre, could result in the need for expensive and complex joint replacement surgery to be deferred significantly for 10 to 15 years.
The next step will see Ms Lark’s stem cells being injected into her hip, which has been deteriorating for the past five years and has become increasingly painful.
It is hoped the stem cells will encourage cartilage growth, or at least slow the degradation.
If Ms Lark were to have a hip replacement in the near future, she would require a second replacement later in life – and second replacements are more complex and prone to greater complications.
”I felt like I wanted to give it a go,” she said of the trial.
Her participation, as a hip patient, is a one-off, in that the greater part of the trial is focused on patients with arthritic knees.
Principal clinical investigator Dr Julien Freitag is looking for 80 patients with moderate osteoarthritis to take part in the trial, which builds on a South Korean study that showed conclusive improvement in cartilage volume when using pure high-concentration stem cell injections.
”We are looking to replicate the South Korean study and also to expand upon it,” the sports doctor said. ”Their conclusion was that multiple injections might achieve better results.”
A separate study will look at the impact of stem cell injections in cases where knees have suffered a cartilage lesion as a result of trauma.
”We know that isolated cartilage lesion will lead to development of osteoarthritis. This study is looking at whether treating that lesion will show prevention of osteoarthritis,” Dr Freitag said.
The disease tends to develop in knees four to 10 years after trauma.
It was previously believed that bone marrow was the prime source of stem cells. However, it has since been discovered they exist throughout the body, where they assist in regeneration and healing. ”It turns out that fat cells are a good source, and they are easier to harvest,” Dr Freitag said.
Figures from the National Joint Replacement Registry show the number of knee replacement surgeries has surged since 2003, when just over 28,000 knee replacements were carried out. Last year, more than 50,000 knee replacements were carried out, more than 10,000 of those in Victoria.
For more information, contact the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre on (03) 9270 8000 or email: [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au.
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