Using stem cells to combat osteoarthritis

In a recent preliminary study, scientists used stem cells to ease osteoarthritis. Although the trial was small-scale, the results are promising and will pave the way for larger studies. Osteoarthritis of the knee (KOA) occurs when the cartilage — the joint's natural cushioning system — breaks down in the knee. Without this buffer, bones can come into contact with each other, causing pain, stiffness, and a loss of flexibility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoarthritis affects an estimated 30 million people in the United States. Osteoarthritis is predominantly a disease of older age, affecting more than one in 10 people over the age of 60 years. As the population of the U.S. is slowly aging, the number of people with osteoarthritis is likely to increase steadily. Although physical interventions and medications can ease symptoms, there is currently no cure because it is not possible to regrow cartilage. Once KOA has progressed to the end stages, the only option is surgical replacement of the joint.

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