Stem Cell Bandage Successfully Induces Repair of White Zone Meniscal Tears

A new approach to treating meniscal tears has been successfully trialed in humans and the advance may offer the promise of better outcomes for patients who suffer this common knee injury. A team from the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol, UK, report that a cell bandage comprised of the patients’ stem cells was implanted in 5 patients, aged 18 to 45, who had suffered white zone meniscal tears. All 5 were observed to have an intact meniscus at 12 months postprocedure, and 3 of the 5 retained the improvement and regained normal knee functionality at 24 months. The remaining 2 patients underwent subsequent surgical removal of the meniscus due to a new tear or a return of symptoms. The results of the trial are published this month in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

Over 1 million people in the US and Europe suffer meniscal tears annually, 90% of which involve the white zone of the meniscus which is difficult to repair due to lack of blood supply to the tissue. Patients usually undergo removal of the torn material, but there is attendant risk of osteoarthritis in the joint later in life. The new cell bandage is created from the patient’s harvested stem cells that are then seeded into a membrane scaffold that can be surgically implanted into the tear site. The bandage encourages new cell growth, facilitating repair of the tear. Study author Anthony Hollander, PhD, Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool, commented, “The cell bandage trial results are very encouraging and offer a potential alternative to surgical removal that will repair the damaged tissue and restore full knee function.”

Read a news story about the treatment advance here.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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