In this video from Mayo Clinic, researcher Dr. Shane Shapiro discusses his use of stem cells to treat osteoarthritis pain. Osteoarthritis is the result of degradation of a joint, usually with age or sometimes a long time after after an injury and can be exacerbated by conditions like muscle weakness or obesity. It is very common, though most common in people over 65 years old; it's often referred to as ‘wear-and-tear' arthritis.
Stem cells offer an interesting avenue for treating this type of arthritis because of their regenerative nature; stem cells are a non-specific cell type that has the ability to become any specific type of cell, a requirement for constructing all of the specialized parts of us, but one that is usually depleted during development. Bone marrow is one of the few sources of stem cells in adults. Researchers are trying to harness these cells, taking them from the bone marrow of a patient and reinjecting them on the same day they are removed for use in the rebuilding of worn-out joints, and it's showing promise.
Future work aims to check for cartilage growth by MRI after the procedure. This initial study was proof-of-principle work to demonstrate that it can be done, and that it could relieve pain.