A new first-in-man study that will explore the treatment of Achilles Tendinopathy based on successful stem cell treatments already used in horses will shortly be underway.
Thanks to a research grant from the UK Stem Cell Foundation, people who suffer from this painful and crippling condition, will hopefully have access to a new treatment within the next 3-5 years.
Led by Andrew Goldberg OBE of University College London (UCL) and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, this first-in-man pilot study explores the treatment of Achilles Tendinopathy using autologous mesenchymal stem cells to repair damage. In the study, stems cells will be taken from the patient, expanded in the laboratory then implanted into their damaged tendon.
Achilles Tendinopathy causes excruciating pain in the heel and affects more than 85,000 people a year in the UK. Currently, the main treatment for this condition is physiotherapy, although surgery is eventually considered by up to half of patients. However this involves prolonged time off work and has unpredictable outcomes.
Mr Goldberg said: “There is a need for improved non-surgical treatments for Achilles Tendinopathy. Our proposed treatment using bone-marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is already well established in the treatment of race horses. We wish to translate this technology to humans. Our first-in-man study will involve 10 patients and is primarily to show that the treatment is safe and has no side effects.”
Lil Shortland, Chief Executive of the UK Stem Cell Foundation which is funding the study, said: “This is an exciting study that will take a tried and tested treatment for horses to see if it will also work on humans. If successful, the study will inform the design of a larger randomised controlled clinical trial that will examine the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the treatment before it becomes a new mainstream regenerative medicine.”
Source: University College London