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Stem cell ‘living bandage’ for knee injuries trialed in humans

Damjan Zabovnik of Slovenia fixes duct tape to his knees to protect his skin from contact with the rotating back wheel of his high speed streamline bicycle during a training session at the DEKRA test drive oval in the eastern town of Klettwitz, August 31, 2013. Zabovnik will attempt to break the world record for human-powered vehicles later this month in the Nevada desert, pushing his self-designed carbon-fibre recumbent bike beyond 133 km/h. Zabovnik designed his bike in a way that the driver is positioned head first in the narrow shell, powering the back wheel and watching the road ahead through a small mirror that looks out of a window at the top. Picture taken August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT CYCLING)

Rockville:A ‘living bandage’ made from stem cells, which could revolutionise the treatment and prognosis of a common sporting knee injury, has been trialled in humans at the universities of Liverpool and Bristol.

Over a million people a year suffer a meniscal tear in the United States and Europe alone and particularly common in contact sports like football and rugby. Many professional sports players opt to have the torn tissue removed altogether, risking osteoarthritis in later life.

The Cell Bandage has been developed by spin-out company Azellon, and is designed to enable the meniscal tear to repair itself by encouraging cell growth in the affected tissue.

The procedure involved taking stem cells, harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow, which were then grown for two weeks before being seeded onto a membrane scaffold that helps to deliver the cells into the injured site. The manufactured Cell Bandage was then surgically implanted into the middle of the tear and the cartilage was sewn up around the bandage to keep it in place.

All five patients had an intact meniscus twelve months post implantation. By 24 months, three of the five patients retained an intact meniscus and had returned to normal knee functionality whilst the other two patients required surgical removal of the damaged meniscus due to a new tear or return of symptoms.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool said: “The Cell Bandage trial results are very encouraging and offer a potential alternative to surgical removal that will repair the damaged tissue and restore full knee function.”

“We are currently developing an enhanced version of the Cell Bandage using donor stem cells, which will reduce the cost of the procedure and remove the need for two operations.” (ANI)