Osteoarthritis (OA) is a complex condition with broad pathology, featuring damage and loss of articular cartilage as a consistent feature. Over 100 million people worldwide suffer from painful osteoarthritis, one of the most common causes of disability. While the onset of OA may be a slow and progressive process being clinically "silent" for many years, trauma such as meniscal or ligament damage are predisposing factors.
Current treatments for osteoarthritis largely focus on pain management and the eventual replacement of the affected knee or hip joint. Our goal at REMEDI is to develop novel cell-based therapies using adult bone marrow stem cells to promote the regrowth of healthy cartilage and repair damaged joints. Stem cells are known to possess properties which allow them to be programmed to create healthy new tissue to repair damage caused by injury or disease. These therapies will have the potential to alleviate or delay the need for joint replacement and lower the need for long-term pain management. We have shown that delivery of mesenchymal stem cells slows down the development of OA, these cells remain at the forefront of current research in cellular therapy for a broad spectrum of diseases including osteoarthritis. This is the focus of the CARA (Cellular Arthoplasty Regeneration in Arthritis) project which is being run jointly with the international company, Smith & Nephew.
THE REMEDI ORTHOBIOLOGICS PROGRAMME
In the REMEDI Orthobiologics Group, Udo Greiser, Cynthia Coleman, Eric Farrell and Prof. Abhay Pandit are working with Prof. Frank Barry and Dr. Mary Murphy to investigate the mechanisms whereby stem cells can prevent development of OA and how these cells can be used to repair damaged, osteoarthritic cartilage or to promot integration of metal implants currently used for joint replacement. The Group works closly interaction with clinical collaborators from the Orthopaedic unit of Galway University Hospital in ensuring that the aims of the research are achieved. Also critical to the successful implemetation of the project is a close working relationship with our industry partners. These include Galway-based companies such as Creganna-Tactx Medical and Proxy Biomedical, EnBio based in Cork and Ovagen, based in Ballina, Co. Mayo.