Relieving Patients' Pain; Scientists Lead Research into Body Repairing Itself

The Journal (Newcastle, England), October 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

Relieving Patients' Pain; Scientists Lead Research into Body Repairing Itself


Byline: Helen Rae

SCIENTISTS in the North East are spearheading a multi-million pound research centre which is aimed at helping patients who have suffered joint damage due to osteoarthritis.

Newcastle University and Arthritis Research UK have joined forces to launch a pounds 6m experimental tissue engineering centre which hopes to regenerate bone and cartilage by using patients' own stem cells to repair any damage caused by the degenerative joint disease.

The research could revolutionise the treatment of osteoarthritis, which causes pain and disability.

Researchers say that within five years they hope to treat early osteoarthritis by introducing adult stem cells and other types of cell into damaged joints and repairing damage through less invasive operations such as key-hole surgery - which will ultimately delay the need for joint replacement.

Prof Andrew McCaskie, centre director and professor of orthopaedic surgery at Newcastle University's Institute of Cellular Medicine and the Freeman Hospital, is leading the studies in the region.

He said: "This is an exciting new development. We hope and aim that elements of this approach will go from the bench to the bedside within the first five years.

"Osteoarthritis affects eight million people in the UK and our study is bringing together groups from all around the UK, including doctors and researchers, to look at a different way and process of treating the illness.

"By using stem cells we're trying to treat osteoarthritis at an earlier stage and assist the human body to repair itself."

The pounds 6m Arthritis Research UK Tissue Engineering Centre is based at four sites: Newcastle University, the University of Aberdeen, Keele University/the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Oswestry and the University of York.

Funded by a grant of pounds 2.5m over five years from Arthritis Research UK with an additional pounds 3.4m donated by the four participating universities - of which Newcastle University is investing pounds 1.2m - the centre will bring together leading clinicians, engineers and biologists. …

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