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Mesenchymal stem cells, as seed cells with multi-directional differentiation potential, play an important role in the treatment of chronic degenerative diseases. Mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into a variety of tissue cells, and at the same time secrete a series of cytokines and nutritional factors to improve the tissue microenvironment, promote cartilage repair and regeneration, regulate immune responses, and alleviate further damage to articular cartilage caused by inflammatory factors.


What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease characterized by degeneration, destruction of articular cartilage and bone hyperplasia, which is mainly caused by inflammation, autoimmune response, infection, metabolic disorder, trauma, and degenerative disease.


It can damage any joint in the body, most commonly those in the knees, hands, hips, and spine. The clinical manifestations are joint redness, swelling, heat, pain, dysfunction and joint deformity. In severe cases, it can lead to disability and affect the quality of life of patients.

According to statistics, about 355 million people in the world suffer from osteoarthritis. In Asia, 1 in 6 people suffer from arthritis at some stage in their life. It is a threat to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases and cancer. The three major killers of the health of the elderly are also called "the number one disabling disease" in the 21st century by the World Health Organization.


As a degenerative disease, osteoarthritis not only occurs in middle-aged and elderly people. For athletes, long-term sports training and joint wear and tear can also lead to the occurrence of osteoarthritis. In addition, office workers, drivers, high-heeled shoes, etc. Young people are also prone to osteoarthritis.


What Causes Osteoarthritis?

Obesity, age (aging), special groups (athletes), trauma, genetics, etc. are all causes of osteoarthritis.

Under normal circumstances, there is a layer of cartilage between the contact surfaces of two bones that cushions and protects the bones. Osteoarthritis occurs because the cartilage gradually thins or even ruptures with age and use, resulting in gradual loss and increased wear between bones. Due to the poor regeneration ability of cartilage, the wear and tear of cartilage is a permanent damage. Without the protection of cartilage, walking is bone grinding, and the pain level can be imagined.


Age is a major factor leading to osteoarthritis. During adolescence, the thickness of knee joint cartilage is usually 2.5 cm, but after the age of 55, only 0.5 cm is left, or even thinner and ruptures, which brings great pain to patients. In addition, obesity is an important risk factor for the development of knee osteoarthritis. Every time the body weight increases by 5%, the force on the knee joint will increase by 35%.


Disadvantages of conventional therapy for osteoarthritis

At present, the conventional treatment of osteoarthritis patients includes oral anti-inflammatory analgesic and glucosamine drugs, intra-articular injection of sodium hyaluronate, physical therapy and surgery. However, conventional treatment and surgery can only temporarily relieve pain, and the long-term effect is not ideal. Conventional therapy cannot prevent the further progression of osteoarthritis, nor can it reverse the damage of cartilage tissue. If it develops to the later stage, it requires surgery to replace the artificial joint. However, surgical treatment also faces problems such as high surgical risk, surgical complications, and allogeneic rejection.


Stem Cell Therapy Safe And Effective For Osteoarthritis

In recent years, a number of clinical trial data at home and abroad have proved that the use of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis is an effective, safe and reliable treatment method.


Mesenchymal stem cells are pluripotent cells that can be induced to differentiate into other tissue cells under certain conditions. Therefore, by inducing mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into chondrocytes or osteoblasts, and then proliferating to generate a large number of high-quality chondrocytes, and then injecting these high-quality chondrocytes into the human body, these generated chondrocytes The damaged cartilage tissue can be repaired in the body, so that the knee joint can return to a normal state, which provides the possibility to fundamentally cure osteoarthritis.

The results showed that, within 2 years, intra-articular injection of autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells was safe and effective in the treatment of knee arthritis.


In recent years, many clinical cases have been obtained by using stem cell regenerative medicine to treat knee arthritis. By inducing stem cells to rapidly differentiate into osteoblasts or chondrocytes, repair damaged tissues, relieve pain, and treat knee arthritis. Good results.


In addition, new stem cell drugs for the treatment of osteoarthritis have been approved for marketing in the world. As early as 2009, a stem cell drug named Chondrocelect was approved and launched in Europe for the treatment of knee cartilage defects; In 2012, another mesenchymal stem cell drug, Cartistem, was approved in South Korea for the treatment of degenerative arthritis and knee cartilage damage; in 2016, the stem cell drug Maci was approved for marketing in the United States for the treatment of knee cartilage damage.


With the development of regenerative medicine technology, stem cell therapy has been tested for safety and efficacy in the field of cartilage defect treatment for more than ten years, which will bring hope for more patients with osteoarthritis in the future!

Updated: May 19, 2022

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