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London researchers enrol first Canadian patients in trial of tissue implant using patients’ own cartilage cells

Clinical trial will compare pain and function of patients treated with NeoCart® implant to those treated with microfracture, the current standard-of-care 

Dr. Alan Getgood performing surgery

Credit: Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry

Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic - 

Dr. Alan Getgood and his team at Western University and Lawson Health Research Institute are the first in Canada to participate in an investigative trial to determine the safety and efficacy of using a patient’s own cartilage cells to repair knee cartilage injuries.

The clinical trial is evaluating a tissue implant called NeoCart®, developed by Histogenics, a U.S. based regenerative-medicine company focused on developing and commercializing musculoskeletal products. The cartilage-like tissue implant is made from a patient’s own cartilage cells.

The Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, supported by Western University and London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), is the first practice in Canada to enrol patients into this multi-centre study.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for Canadian patients to be potentially treated with cutting-edge technology that they otherwise would not have access to,” said Dr. Getgood, an assistant professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry; scientist with Western’s Bone & Joint Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute; and sports medicine surgeon at LHSC.

To generate the implant, a surgeon first obtains a small sample of normal cartilage from a patient’s knee through a minimally invasive knee arthroscopy. The small tissue sample is then expanded in culture into a cartilage-like tissue implant, which is returned to the injury site. The surgeries will take place at LHSC’s University Hospital.

The Phase III clinical trial will compare the pain and function of patients treated with NeoCart® to those treated with microfracture, the current standard-of-care procedure used to treat articular cartilage defects of the knee.

Healthy cartilage is crucial to the smooth and painless mobility of most joints, and has limited capacity to repair itself after injury. Historically, microfracture surgery is considered the current standard of care for most cases of moderate to severe cartilage injury in the knee. Although symptoms may improve for a period of time after surgery, microfracture doesn’t create the same healthy joint cartilage required to withstand normal forces of movement.

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