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Novel umbilical cord stem cell drug for the treatment of cartilage defects 2013-03-05

The cartilage is a unique avascular, aneural tissue that does not regenerate easily once damaged. Chondral defects or damages to articular cartilages due to accidents, necrosis of subchondral bone tissue, or arthritis have become some of the more common disorders today. About 15% of the world's population is reportedly suffering from cartilage and joint damages such as degenerative arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. As population aging progresses and as more young people start taking up active sports, the size of the target patient group is also growing. However, despite ongoing research, an effective treatment for cartilage defects is yet to be discovered. Various different types of treatments are currently in use, such as drug therapy, arthroscopy, and artificial joint surgery. However, they all fail to address the root cause. Complete treatment, or regeneration of damaged or defective cartilage is impossible and continuous drug administration or secondary surgeries are required in many cases.

Rush University Medical Center is conducting the nation's first clinical study of an innovative stem cell drug, Cartistem®, to repair knee cartilage damaged by aging, trauma or degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Cartistem® is manufactured from mesenchymal stem cells derived from allogenic (donor) umbilical cord blood. The stem cells are mixed with hyaluronan, a natural polymer that plays a major role in wound healing and is a building block of joint cartilage. Cartistem® is surgically administered into the area of cartilage damage following an arthroscopic surgery as an adjunct to microfracture, a commonly used technique used to repair cartilage damage.

Upon transplantation of Cartistem® , the UCB mesenchymal stem cells exposed to the synovial fluid of the patient secrete growth factors and cytokines causing immunosuppression, inhibition and modulation of inflammation, inhibition of cell deaths and promotion of cell growth leading to regeneration of cartilage tissue.


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