Arthritis? New procedure could REPAIR joints - Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D.

Arthritis cure? New procedure could REPAIR knee joints

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Arthritis often affects the knee joints, making it hard for sufferers to do everyday activities. But a new treatment could reverse the damage.

The most common form of arthritis in the knee is osteoarthritis, a degenerative “wear and tear” type that tends to affect those over 50.

According to Arthritis Research UK, there are 4.11 million people in England with osteoarthritis of the knee.

However, a new study by the University of Aberdeen may have found a way to repair affected knee joints using stem cells.

The researchers have identified how they can be used to reform and repair cartilage.

Cartilage is a structural component of the body which acts as rubber-like padding to protect the ends of bones.

To keep the cartilage lubricated in order to reduce friction, the membrane releases the synovial fluid.

However, conditions such as arthritis cause the normally thin membranes to become inflamed and thicken, creating more fluid, triggering pain and swelling and leading to catalogue damage.

In the research published in the journal Nature Communications, they discovered a protein – called Yap – that appears to regulate the key stem cells which can help repair cartilage.

They found that when a joint is injured, and the synovial membrane enlarged, there’s a high presence of Yap in the stem cells.

When Yap was removed from stem cells, the synovial membrane in an injured joint did not expand, and additionally, cells without Yap had a reduced ability to contribute to cartilage repair.

Interestingly, the particular stem cells they looked at derived from the same cells which produce our original knee joints when we are embryos.

Professor Cosimo De Bari, director of the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Health, said: “This is important research as we have identified the particular type of stem cells which appear to be important for repairing joints. We have also identified a key protein that regulates these stem cells.

“By identifying and understanding these stem cells more fully, it puts us in a better position down the line to be able to target them with drugs or other treatments.

“Ideally we want to be able to get to a stage where we can give ageing cells that are losing their function a boost.”

Early diagnosis can reduce symptoms and make arthritis easier to treat.

De Bari added: “We want to prevent joint damage and arthritis or treat arthritis at an early stage.

“Once the damage is done, it is difficult to do anything – the challenge is to see if we can support the stem cells present in the joint to make sure they maintain their functionality.”


Iffie Okoronkwo, M.D. is a Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Management physician at Manhattan Spine and Sports Medicine (, a private practice based in New York City with 40 years of experience providing the finest expert medical care and services to patients around the world.

Dr. Iffie is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and, as a physiatrist, utilizes ultrasound guided injections, fluoroscopy guided injections, PRP, regenerative medicine, and more to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions affecting muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves.