Irish team in arthritis breakthrough

  • Deborah Condon

New research involving Irish scientists could lead to effective new treatments for the most common type of arthritis within the next five years.

Scientists based at NUI Galway are part of an EU-funded project - ADIPOA - that is investigating how stem cells from adult fat tissue may be used to activate the regeneration of cartilage. This could lead to new treatments for the condition, osteoarthritis (OA).

OA usually develops gradually over several years, and affects a number of different joints. It is characterised by a degeneration of cartilage in these joints and can be very painful.

Around 400,000 people in Ireland and 70 million in the EU are affected by the condition

According to the scientists, the phase one clinical trial has just finished and early results have so far been positive. Based on these findings, a new and effective treatment for OA could become a reality within the next few years.

"Until now there were just two possible outcomes for suffers of this progressive and debilitating disease - joint replacement surgery, in the case of advanced disease or, life-long pain management. From the clinical trials conducted so far, we have seen the first signs of finding a cure for this truly incapacitating disease which affects so many," commented Prof Frank Barry, scientific director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway and a partner in the ADIPOA project.

He pointed out that using the patient's own stem cells, the scientists were able to ‘treat their diseased joints and relieve their suffering and burden of pain'.

"While we are still in the early stages of clinical trials, the results so far are extremely positive, such that the use of stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis could become a reality for patients within the next five years," he insisted.

The ADIPOA project involves scientists from Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Israel.


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