Posted on Jul 25, 2016, 6 a.m.
Researchers report, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, how it may be possible to use a patient's own stem cells to grow new cartilage in the shape of a hip joint.
The utilization of stem cells in the medical industry captures the attention of critics, while opening the door to new medical discoveries. Healthcare professionals are focusing on a new type of treatment (hip replacement) using stem cells, to rebuild cartilage and restore bone density. This new discovery could put an end to traditional hip replacement therapy.
Unlike most cells in the body, stem cells are unspecialized, meaning they have the potential to transform into another type of cell, with special functions under the right physiologic and experimental conditions. These are the same cells that are typically found in bone marrow, and are common in hip replacement therapy.
How Does the Process Work?
The process begins with harvested stem cells taken from the bone marrow with a biopsy needle, and then centrifuged to create a concentrated formula. The formula containing the stem cell mixture is then injected into the hip joint, followed by an injection of rich plasma platelet. This injection will ultimately provide cartilage growth support, which is mandatory for new hip joint tissues.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases acclaims that the primary cause of hip replacement is a damaged hip joint, and osteoarthritis. The procedure removes the diseased portion of the hip, and replaces these parts with brand new prosthetic parts.
Statistics and Hip Replacement Therapy
Over 332,000 hip replacements are performed in the United States each year. The good news is that the replacement can last an average of 20 years. However, doctors are reluctant about performing hip replacement surgery on patients under 50 years of age. Nevertheless, it is likely that younger patients will need another hip replacement, within this time frame.
Researchers now realize that new cartilage is grown from a patient’s own biological stem cells, which are extracted from fat found under the skin. The process of growing the new cartilage in 3-D involves using a scaffold made of synthetic, which can be molded or shaped into the exact dimension of a patient’s hip joint.
To create the exact dimensions, the scaffold is created using nearly 600 organic bundles of woven fiber to perform like normal cartilage. By inserting one gene into newly grown cartilage, the effects can release anti- inflammatory properties, which aids in the relief of arthritis pain, and prevent the disease from reoccurring.
Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy Vs Knee Replacement Surgery
Healthcare professionals and researchers are confident in their belief that stem cell therapy provides the needed alternative doctors and patients are looking for. With traditional surgery becoming more and more obsolete, patients are looking for long-term solutions with short-term consequences. As of now, the testing phase is limited to animal testing. If all goes well, humans can expect a medical breakthrough, within the next three to five years.
It is predicted that the younger population may be ideal candidates for the new and upcoming biological hip or joint replacement, due to sports, degenerative bone diseases and severe arthritis. The key to a successful therapy is to identify, isolate and treat the condition. In this case, the end results are to reduce the high levels of pain-causing molecules, and protect the newly formed cartilage, while promoting long-term performance.
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Anatomically shaped tissue-engineered cartilage with tunable and inducible anticytokine delivery for biological joint resurfacing, Farshid Guilak et al., Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1601639113, published online July 2016, abstract.
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis news release
CDC, Arthritis-related statistics
NIAMS, Hip replacement