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Stem Cell Bandage Approved for Clinical Trial

Rugby match action (West Point Public Affairs)The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved for clinical trial a new type of stem cell bandage to treat torn knee cartilage. The experimental bandage is made by Azellon Ltd, a spin-off company from University of Bristol in the U.K.

The bandage developed by Azellon repairs torn meniscal cartilage in the knee, a relatively common injury among athletes, particularly in contact sports such as football, rugby, and basketball. The meniscus acts as the shock absorber between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Tears in the meniscus can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, catching or locking of the knee, and limited range of motion.

Small tears in the meniscus can be repaired through RICE therapy, an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression (support bandage), and Elevation.  Aspirin or iboprofen can also relieve the pain and swelling. More serious tears, however, require surgery to remove or repair the damage, followed by wearing a brace or cast, and rehabilitation.

The Azellon bandage offers an alternative therapy to meniscus removal. The company’s technology combines a patient’s own bone marrow stem cells applied to a special membrane that delivers the cells to the injured site. The stem cells removed from the bone marrow are further grown in a lab for about two weeks, then applied to the membrane to form the bandage. That bandage is then surgically implanted in the meniscus, with the remaining cartilage sewn around the bandage.

The phase 1 clinical trial will test the safety of Azellon’s cell bandage in 10 meniscal tear patients, but indications of its effectiveness may also be provided.

Azellon was founded by faculty at University of Bristol. Anthony Hollander is Chief Scientific Officer at Azellon and heads Bristol’s School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

Read more: Universities License Regenerative Membrane Technology

Photo: West Point Public Affairs/Flickr

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