PATIENTS are due to undergo a pioneering stem cell treatment to repair knee cartilage as a world first is trialled at a Bristol hospital.
The “bandage” which uses patients’ own stem cells has been developed by a Bristol University spin-out company, Azellon Ltd, and will be implanted in their knee in a procedure at Southmead Hospital.
Professor Anthony Hollander with an appliance used to insert the pioneering stem cell ‘bandage’ into damaged knee cartilage; left, a close-up of how the knee operation is carried out
Patients with torn meniscal cartilage are now being recruited as part of the study.
In the initial phase ten patients will undergo the procedure.
Researchers have already established in laboratory tests that stem cells can be used to repair tears in cartilage, which is a common sports injury.
Anthony Hollander, who has led the research, was involved in the world’s first windpipe transplant in 2008 and has used similar technology to create the stem cell bandage for patients with torn knee cartilage.
Patients who have been diagnosed with torn meniscal cartilage following an MRI scan will have a small operation to take the bone marrow from their hip.
The stem cells taken from the bone marrow will then be sent to the lab to grow them on the membrane, called a bio-scaffold, which forms the basis of the bandage. Two weeks later the bandage would be sent back to Southmead for an arthroscopy operation, using a small camera, to implant the bandage into the site of the injury.
Patients will be advised not to stand for a few weeks after the procedure. They will then be followed up on a regular basis for seven years.