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Stem Cell Update- what the papers don’t tell you.

Stem Cell update – Looking positive, but let’s not get too excited
Many of you will have seen articles in newspapers about stem cells and the hope that they offer to arthritis sufferers.
Unfortunately, these articles are overstating the current evidence.
The truth is:
1. There is currently a trial running for injection of pure stem cells into osteoarthritic knees, measuring both pain and cartilage depth as outcome measures
2. This trial is about 50% complete and is showing some very good outcomes in pain and function in those who receive the injections, but very few have had their follow up scans yet.
3. The trial is still recruiting for suitable patients
4. Assessment for cartilage regrowth over all the trial patients is about 12 months off.

In a practical sense, this means that we are still looking for participants, but it doesn’t mean that we can say that this treatment will work for all arthritis, nor that we can prevent joint replacements.

In many cases, patents are not suitable for the trial because they don’t fit all the strict criteria. There is the option of seeking private treatment. Costs vary, but are several thousand dollars.

There have been some individual cases that have undergone stem cell therapy and shown regrowth of cartilage. This is certainly exciting, but until more people complete the trials, these are only individual cases.

We would ask that everyone assess the evidence well in making any decisions, and remember that there are many other non surgical options available for management of arthritis that we may recommend first.

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