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Novel Cell Therapy to Improve Soft Tissue Healing Developed by UW Madison Interdisciplinary Research Team

In pre-clinical rodent models, this new therapy has significantly improved upon normal healing and healing augmented with mesenchymal stromal cells.

Orthopedic injury therapy in rodents may soon be headed to the clinic

March 21, 2019

Madison, WI – A novel cell therapy developed by University of Wisconsin – Madison researchers has shown early promise in pre-clinical rodent models to shorten the time to functional recovery (i.e. adequate strength) in ruptured ligaments and tendons.

“These models have shown that our new approach is more consistent and significantly better than normal healing or surgical repair with mesenchymal stromal cells added,” said Ray Vanderby, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a primary investigator on the study.

Vanderby and colleagues – including Connie S. Chamberlain, PhD, from the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Peiman Hematti, MD from the Bone Marrow Transplant Division, Department of Medicine and John A. Kink, PhD from UW Carbone Cancer Center are investigating a novel type of macrophage that better orchestrates the wound healing cascade.

Prior to use, a patient’s macrophages are treated with exosomes from mesenchymal stromal cells, which convert the macrophages into a cell that is uniquely beneficial to early healing.

This method reduces fibrosis and accelerates functional recovery in healing ligaments and tendons. It also has strong potential to similarly benefit other healing tissues.

Presenting this research, Connie S. Chamberlain won the Tendon Section Podium Award at the 2019 Orthopaedic Research Society Meeting and this study was recently published in STEM CELLS. In addition, a patent application for “Macrophage cell therapy to treat orthopedic injury” based on this technology has been filed by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

In addition to Vanderby, Chamberlain, Hematti, and Kink, study authors include Anna E.B. Clements, PhD; Nyna Ugeun Choi, MS; Matthew Halanski, MD; and Geoffrey Baer, MD, PhD .

The team is now working towards completing pre-clinical testing requirements to obtain FDA approval for a first human clinical trial to treat devastating injuries in musculoskeletal tissues.