Developing stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biology is collaborating with global medical technology company, Anika Therapeutics, Inc. to develop an injectable mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

The University of Liverpool reports the purpose of this three year research collaboration is to develop a novel MSC therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis, and if successful, is expected to yield a lead candidate that will move toward clinical development within a year of the collaboration’s completion.

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting over two hundred and thirty million people globally. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back, neck, small joints of the fingers, and the bases of the thumb and big toe. In normal joints, cartilage covers the end of each bone and acts as a cushion between the bones. However, osteoarthritis causes this cartilage to break down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of Stem Cell Biology at the University of Liverpool, said “Cellular therapy is already being used in some countries for osteoarthritis with some evidence that it transiently reduces pain. Our new approach to cellular therapy may provide a durable treatment for osteoarthritis. This collaboration with Anika will allow us to accelerate any discoveries through to clinical and commercial development.”

Dr Charles H Sherwood, Chief Executive Officer at Anika Therapeutics, said “We are very excited to partner with the University of Liverpool and Professor Hollander to continue his research into an innovative treatment for osteoarthritis patients. This research will consist of a novel product design and pre-clinical testing, that has the potential to produce an advanced therapy to treat the joint damage and pain caused by this debilitating condition.”

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