A ‘living bandage’ made from stem cellular material, which could revolutionise the treatment and prognosis of a common wearing knee injury, has been trialled in humans for the first time simply by scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol.

Meniscal tears are suffered simply by over one million people a year in the US and European countries alone and are particularly common in contact sports like soccer and rugby. 90% or more of tears occur within the white zone of meniscus which lacks a bloodstream supply, making them difficult to repair. Many professional sports gamers opt to have the torn tissue removed altogether, risking osteo arthritis in later life.

The Cell Bandage has been developed by spin-out company Azellon, and is designed to allow the meniscal tear to repair itself by encouraging cellular growth in the affected tissue.

A model version of the Cell Bandage was trialled in 5 patients, aged between 18 and 45, with white-zone meniscal tears. The trial received funding support through Innovate UK and the promising results have been published these days in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medication .

The procedure involved taking stem cellular material, harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow, which were after that grown for two weeks before being seeded onto the membrane scaffold that helps to deliver the cells into the injured web site. The manufactured Cell Bandage was then surgically incorporated into the middle of the tear and the cartilage was sewn upward around the bandage to keep it in place.

All 5 patients had an intact meniscus 12 months post implantation. Simply by 24 months, three of the five patients retained an unchanged meniscus and had returned to normal knee functionality whilst another two patients required surgical removal of the damaged meniscus as a result of new tear or return of symptoms.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of Stem Cell The field of biology at the University of Liverpool and Founder and Main Scientific Officer of Azellon, said: “The Cell Bandage trial results are very encouraging and offer a potential alternative to surgery that will repair the damaged tissue and restore complete knee function.

“We are currently developing a good enhanced version of the Cell Bandage using donor come cells, which will reduce the cost of the procedure and remove the requirement for two operations. ”

The Cell Bandage was produced by the Advanced Therapies Unit at the NHS Blood & Transplant facility in Speke, Liverpool plus implanted into patients at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, under the supervision of Professor Ashley Blom, Head associated with Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Bristol.

Professor Blom commented: “The Cell Bandage offers an interesting potential new treatment option for surgeons that could particularly advantage younger patients and athletes by reducing the likelihood of earlier onset osteoarthritis after meniscectomy. ”

The spokesperson for Innovate UK said: “Turning stem cellular research into clinical and commercial reality requires close up collaboration between businesses, universities, and Hospitals. It’s excellent to see this inter-disciplinary approach has led to such an fascinating outcome from this first-in-human trial. ”

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