A large-scale clinical trial is being planned in Europe to assess a possible treatment for knee osteoarthritis using stem cells.
The European Union´s Horizon 2020 research funding programme has allocated almost €6 million (£4.3 million) to the ADIPOA-2 project, which will include 18 partners from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
If successful, the work could lead to a treatment becoming available within five years.
In the first phase of the project, which was completed in 2014, researchers carried out a first-in-man safety study in 18 patients. Treatment involved a single injection of stem cells, cultured from the patients´ own fatty tissue, into the joint. According to the researchers, results from this study were sufficiently encouraging to warrant a larger, multi-centre trial of the treatment.
Ten hospitals in Europe will participate in ADIPOA-2, with a randomised clinical trial involving 150 patients. This research aims to further assess the safety and efficacy of patient-derived stems cells in the treatment of advanced osteoarthritis of the knee.
The project will also involve the production of consistent batches of high-quality autologous (patient´s own) stem cells under GMP-compliant conditions.
The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at the National University of Ireland Galway is coordinating the project.
Professor Frank Barry, scientific director of the Institute, said: “The results from ADIPOA´s first-in-man trials were very encouraging and paved the way for another study to further test the safety and effectiveness on a wider scale. ADIPOA-2 is bringing together Europe´s leading scientific, clinical and technical expertise on this project.”
Osteoarthritis is inflammation of the knee joint which is caused by the cartilage degenerating. At the moment, there is no cure for the condition.