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

Dr. Alan Getgood performs knee surgery in this 2014 photo

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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Crystal Mackay, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.933.5944, @CrystalMackay

Western delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

The Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University is one of Canada’s preeminent medical and dental schools. Established in 1881, it was one of the founding schools of Western University and is known for being the birthplace of family medicine in Canada. For more than 130 years, the School has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and a passion for scientific discovery.
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As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.
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Dr. Alan Getgood performs knee surgery in this 2014 photo