Lots of comments and questions from my patients about this WSJ article [L Landro, Sep 9, 2021] on the future direction of joint osteoarthritis research:
As quoted here, over 30 million Americans suffer from this progressive condition, with over 1 million knee and hip joint replacements performed yearly and, with the aging of baby boomers, likely to grow exponentially.
This article focuses on two aspects researchers are exploring to repair & preserve (rather than replace, with it's attendant risks); articular cartilage, the joint lining that degenerates in hip, knee and shoulder arthritis, leading to pain, disability, and loss of function.
“Researchers are working on multiple fronts to both prevent cartilage injuries in young athletes from turning into osteoarthritis a decade or two later
and to regrow cartilage in older patients once it is gone.
They are programming stem cells to become cartilage cells, developing drugs to change the course of osteoarthritis, experimenting with methods to more effectively deliver new cells and compounds, and designing materials to help new cells integrate with existing tissue.” L. Landro
Discussed are numerous research examples of each; not ready for clinical use, but on the forefront.
The “Holy Grail” will be the ability to pivot from regenerative treatments that currently may offer good pain relief & improved mobility & function (such as cellular “stem cell” & platelet-plasma/PRP therapies), to true regeneration of joints & joint cartilage. Or, as also discussed, finding a way to identify those most at risk for osteoarthritis and stopping it in it’s tracks. Exciting stuff!
Kelly Cunningham MD
Austin Ortho Biologics
Board-certified Orthopedic & Regenerative Sports Medicine
Experts in Office- & Surgery-based Cellular "Stem Cell' & PRP Therapy