How Effective is Stem Cells for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis?

Research studies suggest knee osteoarthritis is a challenging condition to manage. The disease affects people from all walks of life – from old to young. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis, having the knee as the most affected area.

Considering several factors cause osteoarthritis, the age factor is one of the main causes of knee osteoarthritis. Others include the patients having a biological history with the disease, injury in the cartilage, or them being obese. In the case of disease management, studies put, knee osteoarthritis sometimes can be resistant to drugs, medications, and surgeries. Understanding this condition, disease management experts stress on exploiting the benefits of regenerative medicine – stem cells in particular.

Let's discuss the effectiveness of stem cells in managing knee osteoarthritis patients. But before that, let's discuss what defines knee osteoarthritis.

What is Knee Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis refers to a condition in which cartilage in the joints – the natural cushioning present between the joints starts to fade. The cartilage is called a cushion because it makes joints' movement painless, protecting the bones from eroding. Once the cartilage in the joints wears away, pain, stiffness, and decreased ability of the joints to move follows. The disease can be characterized by articular cartilage degeneration and secondary osteogenesis. However, the earliest most trackable signs – pathological changes occur in articular cartilage. Precisely, patients having KOA suffer psychological damage, physical debilitation, and poor quality of life. This is why the treatments for knee osteoarthritis aim to reduce and eliminate pain, improve or restore the functionality of joints, rework the deformity in the joints while also improve the patient's quality of life. Let's discuss some of the treatments of KOA.

Treatments of KOA

Currently, countless treatments for KOA are in practice. Conventional treatments offer clinical benefits, whereas the articular replacement is considered as only the last treatment option. Such treatments decrease pain to minimize joint disability.

In contrast, researchers suggest, regenerative medicine offers novel medical treatments leading to repair, replacement, regeneration, and restoration of the damaged cells and tissues. Stem cells happen to be the tool of regenerative therapy along with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and amniotic fluid. In particular, stem cells are one of the milestones in the field of regenerative medicine. It has shown promising outcomes in the regeneration of articular cartilage compared to the other traditional repair techniques. Stem cell's ability to form typical hyaline cartilage because of how it helps in the management of symptoms makes it one of the milestones in regenerative medicine. They have an efficient ability to expand in vitro when compared with autologous chondrocytes.

Bottom Line

Studies suggest MSC – Mesenchymal stem cells are one of the most studied tissues engineering seed cells compared to the others. Studies show results in favor of regenerative medicine for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. More and more researchers are now exploring stem cells to restore joint structure and functionality of patients having knee osteoarthritis. In short, because of the cartilage's limited ability to regenerate itself, stem cells have become a tremendous alternative for the treatment of KOA patients.

References:

  • Stem Cells for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Comprehensive Review, Lei Zhao, MD1 , Alan David Kaye, MD, PhD2 , and Alaa Abd-Elsayed, MD3
  • Research Progress on Stem Cell Therapies for Articular Cartilage Regeneration Shuangpeng Jiang , 1,2 Guangzhao Tian , 1,3 Xu Li,2 Zhen Yang,1,3 Fuxin Wang,1 Zhuang Tian,1 Bo Huang,1 Fu Wei,1 Kangkang Zha,1,3 Zhiqiang Sun,1,3 Xiang Sui,1 Shuyun Liu , 1 Weimin Guo , 1,4 and Quanyi Guo 1

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