Mesoblast Limited has announced that preclinical trials of its patented adult stem cells had shown that the therapy significantly protected knee cartilage against damage in osteoarthritis.
The results of these trials signal Mesoblast's expansion of its clinical applications to inflammatory and degenerative diseases of joint cartilage, such as osteoarthritis, which affect over 43 million people annually in the United States alone.
"The results show that our off-the-shelf allogeneic stem cell product is effective for the treatment and protection of osteoarthritic joint cartilage" Mesoblast Founder, Professor Silviu Itescu, said.
"The osteoarthritis market represents at least as great a commercial opportunity for Mesoblast as does bone repair. Consequently, we will now seek to rapidly advance our new clinical program for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis," he said.
With the support of the Australian Government's Commercial Ready Grant award, Mesoblast's cartilage trials evaluated the effectiveness and safety of the company's allogeneic (donor unrelated) adult stem cells to treat osteoarthritis of the knee in 48 sheep arthritic joints.
According to Mesoblast, the results showed that joint cartilage in osteoarthritic knees of animals receiving Mesoblast's stem cells had greater thickness, reduced breakdown, and greater biomechanical strength three months after injection into the knee than did control joints receiving injections of hyaluronic acid.
The trial's principal investigator, Professor Rick Read at the Murdoch University in Western Australia, said: "We are delighted with the significant cartilage protective effects of Mesoblast's allogeneic cells in our large animal model of knee osteoarthritis, without any adverse events of the cells at all".