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Sanford Researchers Try to Answer Critical Stem Cell Question

Aug 21, 2019 07:00AM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

Researchers at Sanford have embarked on what may be one of the most important stem cell trials ever conducted. This time, they are trying to answer the question of which stem cell source - adipose, bone marrow, or umbilical cord - is most effective for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.

The trial is being conducted in conjunction with Duke University, Emory University and Andrews Research Education Foundation.

“This is the first multi-center study comparing the effectiveness of stem cells from different locations,” says orthopedic surgeon Chad Kurtenbach, MD.. “In medicine, we are still trying to determine exactly what is the best source. The FDA is asking for that same information.”

Kurtenbach says some studies suggest adipose-derived stem cells are the most stable and viable for injection into a knee or shoulder. But younger stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells, may be more potent. 

“The goal of this trial is to quantify what these differences mean,” says Dr. Kurtenbach. “A lot of stem cell trials have been small and retrospective and they haven’t been specific about exactly what was in the injection. The credibility of this study is very high so it could lead us to a lot of good answers.”

 “A head-to-head comparison of these various stem cell sources has never been done before,” says Tiffany Facile, Sanford’s Director of Regenerative Medicine. “Sanford was asked to be a strong collaborator in this trial because we have been identified as a leader in regenerative therapy.” 

The study will enroll 480 knee osteoarthritis patients across the four institutions, including a 120 from Sanford. Participants will receive a single injection followed by six follow-up visits over the course of a year. 

“This is Level I evidence that will really raise the bar in orthobiologics,” says Facile.