Researchers at the Andrews Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine are working on a breakthrough clinical trial that could soon bring FDA approval for stem cell knee cartilage repair that’s already available in other countries. Dr. Khay Yong Saw, from Kuala Lumpur, has developed this effective treatment to inject autologous (the patient’s own) stem cells into the deteriorated cartilage to restore its previous durability and function. He is now supervising the process in hopes that his methods can be adapted in an FDA approved treatment. The treatment has the potential to replace invasive surgical procedures that require months in postoperative recovery, and could even utilize mesenchymal stem cells (the same ones found in teeth) given their known properties of differentiating into cartilage tissue. This treatment has already shown promise with over 700 patients in Malaysia in the last 5 years.
Ryan Tannehill, quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, avoided invasive ACL repair with a stem cell treatment. A common injury among athletes, ACL tears require surgery and long months of recovery and physical therapy to restore normal mobility and function in the knee. Tannehill was able to avoid this arduous process in favor of a stem cell treatment, and although he is required to wear a brace, he does not display limited mobility typically associated with this injury.
A team at the Stem Cell Medical Clinic in Seoul, South Korea has been investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs] as a non-invasive, non-surgical alternative for repairing a torn meniscus. Meniscus tears prove complicated because of their lack of vascularity and blood flow, significantly increasing healing time. Serious injuries to the least vascular part of the meniscus normally require meniscectomies. The use of MSCs has demonstrated an ability to regenerate the fibrocartilage of the meniscus, as well as prevent early development of osteoarthritis, a major side effect of a meniscectomy.