Soon, ‘tummy fat’ cells jab to halt arthritis

Updated: Nov 13, 2011, 19:00 PM IST

London: Dutch and French researchers have revealed that a revolutionary jab made from stem cells found in tummy fat could soon stop osteoarthritis in its tracks.

The breakthrough provides hope for millions of people who suffer from the incurable condition and could potentially save thousands from needing joint replacement surgery, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers found that injecting stem cells harvested from a patient’s own waistline protects joints against crippling damage.

The therapy works by stopping destruction of cartilage and by protecting ligaments.

Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France, injected adipose stem cells into the joints of mice with arthritic knees.

Some mice received the jab seven days after osteoarthritis first set in, others 14 days after – which would translate into a few weeks or months in humans.

When it was given sooner, the jab cut destruction of cartilage by 54 per cent compared with those injected with a dummy jab. After six weeks, they had half the amount of ligament damage.

The jab also slowed a process called synovial activation, where the soft membrane around the joint becomes inflamed, in some cases by as much as 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, Robert Moots, professor of rheumatology at the University of Liverpool, warned it was not yet certain how stem cells will behave in human joints.

But he added: “It is the strongest clue yet that stem cell treatments could make a big difference.”

The study has been revealed at the American College of Rheumatology in Chicago.