Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints for which pain management is the most common treatment. Researchers are investigating using bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) as a cellular-based method of regenerating damaged tissue and treating osteoarthritis.
Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) suffer from painful inflammation in their joints and a slow deterioration of articular cartilage. It affects millions of patients and half of all Americans in their lifetimes. Current treatments fail to treat the degenerative loss of cartilage, and are reduced to treating pain and inflammation associated with the disease. New research into the field is centered on the use of stem cells to regenerate lost tissue and treat the source of OA.
Stem cells are human cells that have yet to differentiate into a specialized form. They are useful due to their high proliferative abilities, whereas specialized cells stop replicating much sooner due to cell damage. The exact mechanisms of stem cells are still unknown, but they are becoming increasingly used in the treatment of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and osteoarthritis. One source of stem cells is bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC), the subject of a recent study.
In a new study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Shapiro et al. investigated the safety and efficacy of BMAC in treating patients with knee OA. 25 patients with bilateral knee pain were entered into the study, with bone marrow extractions from the iliac crest injected in one knee and placebo saline injections in the other. Patients were included if they had longstanding bilateral knee pain despite conventional treatments and excluded if they had other conditions that jeopardized completion of the study. MRIs were conducted at 6 months and 12 months, and patient-reported pain scores and joint examinations were conducted at 1 week, 3 months and 6 months post injection.
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