A “Living Bandage” For Knee Injuries

Over one million people a year in the United States and Europe alone suffer from meniscal tears. Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Bristol have tested a “living bandage” comprised of stem cells to repair such injuries. The difficulty in treating this common sports knee injury is that more than 90% of tears occur in the meniscus’ “white zone” where there is a great lack of blood supply.

Azellon has designed the Cell Bandage which encourages cell growth of the meniscal tissue in order for the tear to repair itself. The prototype was trialed in five patients with white zone meniscal tears. Stem cells which were harvested in the patient’s bone marrow were grown for two weeks and then delivered into the site of injury. The Cell Bandage was then implanted into the middle of the meniscal tear, and cartilage was sewn around the bandage to secure it in place.

12 months post-op, all five patients had an intact meniscus. 24 months post-op, three of the five still had success and returned to normal knee function. The other two of the five had removal of the meniscus due to the return of symptoms or a new tear.

Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool and Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Azellon, Anthony Hollander says, “The Cell Bandage trial results are very encouraging and offer a potential alternative to surgical removal that will repair the damaged tissue and restore full knee function. We are currently developing an enhanced version of the Cell Bandage using donor stem cells, which will reduce the cost of the procedure and remove the need for two operations.”

Professor Ashley Blom, Head of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Bristol commented: “The Cell Bandage offers an exciting potential new treatment option for surgeons that could particularly benefit younger patients and athletes by reducing the likelihood of early onset osteoarthritis after meniscectomy.”


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