New Research Uses Stem Cells As Possible Treatment For Arthritis

by Staff , | 2012-08-31

A Toronto research team hopes to make hip and knee replacements a thing of the past as it explores the growth of new human cartilage using stem cells.

With an estimated four million Canadians suffering from arthritis, and that number expected to grow to seven million by 2031, doctors are hoping to use the stem cells to treat the deterioration of cartilage in joints. “Although hip and knee replacements are a great operation, they improve patients’ lives in terms of pain, quality and function, they’re not your own joint,” Dr. Nizar Mahomed told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday. “They don’t last forever and they bring risks and limitations.”

Mahomed, an orthopedic surgeon at Toronto’s Western Hospital, said 45,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries are performed in Canada each year. Many of the surgeries are to treat the damage left by arthritis, which he said is caused by aging, obesity and injuries.

“The incident of arthritis increases with age, so as our population ages the prevalence of arthritis is going to continue to increase.”

Mahomed and his colleagues are one of the first research teams in the world that have been able to grow human cartilage.

The team is now embarking on the next stage of the study, which will see the new tissue used in animals.

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