A new, cutting edge tendon stem cell injection procedure for Tennis Elbow and other Tendinopathies is now being offered in Australia, having undergone at least 2 clinical trials – Although it’s not available in the United States or Europe yet.
“We take the patient’s own stem cells from a healthy tendon and regrow the cells in our laboratory,”
In October of 2013, Orthocell Limited announced the results of a successful clinical trial of a tendon injury treatment, using its patented stem cell technology.
“The AJSM paper is a benchmark study that validates the repair of tendon using tendon derived stem cells. We are now focusing our efforts on offering this world class treatment more widely to patients throughout Australasia…”
Orthocell Managing Director Paul Anderson
World-first Trial for Tendon Repair… PRNewsWire.com
This clinical trial, apparently the first of its kind, was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (AJSM)
“CONCLUSION: In this study, patients with chronic LE [Lateral Epicondylitis / “Tennis Elbow”] who had previously undergone an unsuccessful full course of nonoperative treatment showed significantly improved clinical function and structural repair at the origin of the common extensor tendon after ATI. This novel treatment is encouraging for the treatment of Tendinopathy and warrants further evaluation.”
Autologous Tenocyte Injection for the Treatment of severe, Chronic Resistant Lateral Epicondylitis: A Pilot study
Am J Sports Med. 2013 Dec;41(12):2925-32. doi: 10.1177/0363546513504285. Epub 2013 Sep 25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24068695
The way the study was conducted was:
- MRI scans taken – Patients with stubborn, severe cases of Tennis Elbow first had MRI scans,
- Tendons cells extracted from knee – Tendon cells were taken from the patients’ healthy Patellar Tendons by needle biopsy (under local anesthetic)
- Tendons cells cultured and multiplied – The cells were expanded by in vitro culture in a lab, to produce larger numbers of tenocytes
- Tenocytes injected into damaged Tennis Elbow area – The tenocytes (tendon stem cells) were injected into the site of tendinopathy (the Tennis Elbow tendon ECRB) under ultrasound / sonogram guidance.
- Patients were reevaluated – Finally, the patients underwent clinical reevaluations and had follow up MRI scans 1 year after the procedure.
The results showed “significantly improved clinical function and structural repair”
(The clinical function having to do with the grip-strength tests and pain evaluation scores, and the structural repair apparently a visible change in the before and after MRI comparisons.)
“This novel treatment is encouraging for the treatment of tendinopathy and warrants further evaluation.”
This technique, the result of 10+ years of development, is credited to Professor Ming Hao Zheng and his group at the Centre for Translational Orthopaedic Research at the University of Western Australia.
The Second Orthocell Ortho-ATI Study
Later, in October of 2015 it was reported that a successful study had been conducted with two dozen workers who were suffering from work-related injuries and (apparently, mostly Tennis Elbow.)
Over 80% of the workers in the study were able to return to work and more than 50% were able to return to full capacity.
Follow ups taking place 3-6 months later showed an improvement in pain reduction of nearly 90% when at rest and over 50% when using the affected arm.
Recent Survey Of Australian Ortho-ATI Patients Also Looks Promising
A recent survey of people who have received Ortho-ATI treatment (650 patients over the last 4 years) suggests they’re pretty happy customers…
Of the 47 who responded to the survey, at least 80 per cent were “satisfied or extremely satisfied” for both pain relief and improved function in their lives.
One of the drawbacks seems to be the waiting time.
On the first visit to the clinic, healthy cells are taken by a “biopsy” needle extraction, which is then sent to Orthocell’s laboratory…
The process for growing / culturing and multiplying the tendon stem cells takes a month, at which point the cells are sent back to the clinic.
I suppose after struggling with Tennis Elbow or some other Tendinopathy for months, or even years, what’s another month!?
(Gotta say, though, my #1 concern would be whether they would possibly get my cells mislabeled or otherwise mixed up with some other patient’s.)
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