A Spanish investigation recently presented at the 2011 World Osteoarthritis Congress, which has taken place in San Diego (California, United States) has shown that the amniotic membrane constitutes a source of useful stem cells in the development of a cell therapy treatment that serves to heal articular cartilage lesions.
Dr. Emma Muiños, of the Biomedical Research Institute of the University Hospital Complex of A Coruña, has defined the main benefits derived from using two classes of cells originating from the amniotic membrane to regenerate certain injuries of the articular cartilage, due to trauma, overload or turns, explaining that ethical conflicts are not created because these cells belong to a tissue that is usually discarded after childbirth, and that also do not cause immunological rejection so it would accelerate the recovery of these patients.
This therapy can prevent a small lesion from ending up degenerating into osteoarthritis, a very prevalent pathology that currently has no cure
At present, articular cartilage lesions are difficult to treat due to their limited ability to self-repair and, in osteoarthritis, when the cartilage is damaged, the progress of the lesion leads to the destruction of all tissue, the researcher pointed out. He added that the use of this new cell therapy improves the results achieved so far in the treatment of this type of injuries.
In the research, two types of cells from a single tissue source have been obtained, mesenchymal cells Human amniotic stromal (CMEAh) and human amniotic epithelial cells (CEAh). These two types of cells have demonstrated their ability to synthesize a tissue with which damaged areas are covered, although mesenchymal cells are more appropriate for this. Although the expert has indicated that it is still necessary to improve the fabric obtained before starting to develop models in vivo.
Prevention of osteoarthritis
This treatment would benefit patients with a chondral injury, originated mainly by sudden turns, traumatisms, or repeated overloads, which for example are frequent in professional athletes or people whose work entails high physical loads.
Dr. Muiños explained that this therapy can prevent a small lesion from degenerating into osteoarthritis, a very prevalent pathology that currently can not be cured, and is an important cause of pain and disability in Spain, where it is estimated that 80% of the population over 65 years old has osteoarthritis.
Currently research to apply regenerative medicine to rheumatology focus on the tissue engineering which, as Dr. Muiños explains, aims to create biological substitutes that restore, maintain or improve tissue function, for which it is necessary to combine the methods and principles of the life sciences with those of engineering.
These techniques, the expert added, would make it easier for the joint tissues to recover, and thus could stop the progression of osteoarthritis, or improve the quality of a tissue after an injury.
Source: Spanish Society of Rheumatology (SER)