CSU stem cell research aims to improve osteoarthritis


Tuesday 24 Apr 2018

* Stem cell therapy is an emerging treatment for osteoarthritis

* People living with osteoarthritis can gain access to this treatment

* The study is an Australian first to explore disease modifying potential of stem cell therapy in the treatment of arthritis.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) is contributing to national research that aims to explore the effectiveness of using a person’s own stem cells to treat their arthritis.

Dr James Wickham (pictured), lecturer in anatomy and physiology in the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences in Orange, is one of the lead investigators in this ground-breaking potentially disease modifying research.

The research is being undertaken with Associate Professor Julien Freitag, the clinical director and study doctor at the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre, and enquiries from potential participants in the research are welcome.

“The purpose of this study is to formally follow-up and record the effectiveness of stem cell injections in the treatment of osteoarthritis. A secondary objective is to determine whether stem cell therapy offers disease modifying potential and therefore whether it can limit, prevent or possibly reverse the progression of arthritis,” Dr Wickham said.

The potential benefits of the research include:

* Good outcomes for people with knee osteoarthritis with significant improvements of increased functionality and reductions in pain;

* Cartilage regrowth, which has been shown in some participants, with a halting of disease progression being a consistent finding.

Dr Wickham explained that autologous (from your own body) stem cell therapy is an emerging treatment, and that the study will be the first to use this methodology to explore benefits and monitor any adverse events.

“Initial unpublished results indicate that participants will substantially benefit in terms of reduced pain and increased mobility,” Dr Wickham said.

“Recent publications have highlighted the ability of stem cells to regrow cartilage in human subjects.

“It is anticipated that stem cell therapy will have disease modifying properties and hence possibly prevent later requirement for joint replacement surgery,” Dr Wickham said.

Dr Wickham also mentioned that an allogeneic (from donor) stem cell clinical trial for knee osteoarthritis has also gained CSU ethical approval, with the first participants to undergo their stem cell injections in May.

CSU’s Human Research Ethics Committee has approved this project.

Participants interested in undergoing stem cell therapy will be required to make a number of visits to the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre, undergo MRI scans, and fill-out online questionnaires.


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Media contact: Bruce Andrews, 0418 669 362

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Dr James Wickham, who is based at CSU in Orange.