December 16, 2016 – University of Liverpool
A ‘living bandage’ made from stem cells, which could revolutionise the treatment and prognosis of a common sporting knee injury, has been trialed in humans for the first time by scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol.
Meniscal tears are suffered by over one million people a year in the US and Europe alone and are particularly common in contact sports like football and rugby. 90% or more of tears occur in the white zone of meniscus which lacks a blood supply, making them difficult to repair. Many professional sports players opt to have the torn tissue removed altogether, risking osteoarthritis in later life.
The Cell Bandage has been developed by spin-out company Azellon, and is designed to enable the meniscal tear to repair itself by encouraging cell growth in the affected tissue.
A prototype version of the Cell Bandage was trialled in five patients, aged between 18 and 45, with white-zone meniscal tears. The trial received funding support from Innovate UK and the promising results have been published today in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
The procedure involved taking stem cells, harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow, which were then grown for two weeks before being seeded onto a membrane scaffold that helps to deliver the cells into the injured site. The manufactured Cell Bandage was then surgically implanted into the middle of the tear and the cartilage was sewn up around the bandage to keep it in place.