Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Novel Stem Cell Therapies Under Investigation at Houston Methodist as Biologic Solution for Stubborn Orthopedic Conditions

Dec. 15, 2023 - Eden McCleskey

As stem cell therapies gain popularity as a biologic solution for stubborn orthopedic conditions including cartilage repair, osteochondral defects and osteoarthritis (OA), researchers from the Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Program and the Ann Kimball & John W. Johnson Center for Cellular Therapeutics are helping advance the science from laboratory to clinic.

The Johnson Center enables researchers at Houston Methodist to rapidly design new therapies and produce experimental therapeutics onsite.

In a study published in Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, Houston Methodist researchers evaluated the efficacy of bone marrow aspirate (BMA) compared to bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC).

BMA is used to harvest mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to treat orthopedic pathologies. The aspirate is centrifuged into a concentrate, BMAC, that can be administered directly into a patient.

Results from the study demonstrated high variability in MSC quantity, cytokine profile and protein concentration.

Cultured stem cells are also being studied in the lab at Houston Methodist.

The studies will help physicians plan stem cell therapies and maximize outcomes.

A separate study, published in the journal Nature, identified a novel stem cell-based regenerative medicine approach able to promote cartilage repair in patients with damage from OA or injury.

The research suggested that articular derived-cartilage progenitor/stem cells (CPSC) can be used as a tool for regenerative medicine approaches for OA, specifically demonstrating the benefit of using a biomimetic acellular scaffold as an advanced 3D culture system to mimic the physiological environment more accurately.

Novel drug delivery platforms for stem cell therapies is another significant area of research for the department.

Houston Methodist researchers recently developed new liposome-based biomimetic nanoparticle material that can target and treat surgically induced post-traumatic osteoarthritis in preclinical models.

The formulations encapsulate drug or genetic cargo and have been proven to selectively target the injured site.

When injected intravenously and intra-articularly, the cargo is retained at the site longer than a typical drug injected intra-articularly.

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