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Stem cell therapy of osteoarthritis using stromal vascular fraction cells

      Therapy of osteoarthritis relies on non-steroid analgesics, chondroprotectives and in late stages total joint replacement is considered a standard of care. We performed a pilot study using novel stem cell therapy approach that was performed during one surgical procedure. It relies on abdominal lipoaspiration and processing of connective tissue to stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells that typically contain relatively large amounts of mesenchymal stromal and stem cells. SVF cells are injected immediately to the target joint or to the connective tissue of the target joint. Since 2011, total of 205 patients have been recruited and followed for up to 24 months to demonstrate the therapeutical potential of freshly isolated SVF cells. At the same time, one to four joints (knees and hips) were injected with SVF cells per patient. A total number of 319 joints were treated. Semiquantitative clinical scale evaluation and non-steroid analgesics dependence was used as measurement of the clinical effect, all patients were diagnosed with stage II–IV osteoarthritis using X-ray and ultrasound, in some cases MRI was also performed to monitor the changes before and after stem cell therapy. After 3 months from SVF therapy, at least 50% clinical improvement was recognized in 95%, at least 75% clinical improvement in 82%, and complete remission in 73% of patients, respectively. Within 1–2 weeks from SVF therapy 85% of patients were off the non-steroid analgesics and remain such for at least 6 months. No serious side effects, infection or cancer was associated with SVF cell therapy. In conclusion, here we report a novel and promising therapeutical approach that is safe, cost effective, and relying only on autologous cells.
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