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STANFORD WILL SHINE ANOTHER SPOTLIGHT on the curative potential of stem-cell technology this year with an innovative approach to treating damaged cartilage and osteoarthritis. Already enthused by results from the lead-up work, Jason Dragoo, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, is preparing to launch a human trial for restoring articular cartilage at the knee joint.
The trial, involving 40 patients, uses cells taken from the fat pad under the knee and concentrates them in the lab to produce therapeutically friendly progenitor cells—also called adipose-derived stem cells. For 20 of the patients, these cells will be used to surgically target distinctly identified defects in the articular cartilage, the movement-aiding tissue at the end of joints. This approach, says Dragoo, is like trying to fix holes in a tire, as opposed to methods for resurfacing “treadwear” all along the cartilage.