Scientists and physicians from St. Catherine Special Hospital and Genos Laboratories have presented the results of a two-year research program which have just been published in the scientific journal Genes.
During the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA), by using mesenchymal stem cells isolated from fatty tissue of the patients (AdMSC), Croatian scientists have achieved results which give essential insight into the treatment of OA.
For the first time, they have presented new mechanisms of AdMSC action on the damaged cartilage surrounding large joints, such as the increase in the synthesis of critical molecules (glycosaminoglycans) responsible for the normal functioning of hyaline cartilage. The results indicate the effect of mesenchymal stem cells (AdMSCs) on cartilage cells via several vital mechanisms, including the release of so-called trophic factors which inhibit cell death (apoptosis) and the formation of scar tissue, stimulate the creation of new blood vessels, and have mitogenic (proliferative) effects, ultimately leading to the repair of the damaged tissue or even a complete regenerative effect.
Of particular significance is the fact that it has been determined that, after AdMSC application, most OA patients have a substantial reduction in sleeping and movement pain, as well as experiencing increased mobility. At the same time, by analysing the highly sensitive inflammatory processes (IgG glycans), it has been established that the inflammatory process in the joints becomes stabilised, which is a precondition for the normal functioning of cartilage cells, especially chondrocytes.
The press conference was attended by three patients who experienced the AdMSC application during the treatment of osteoarthritis of the joints of the knee and hip. All the patients emphasised a significant reduction in pain, as well as a significant improvement in mobility after the AdMSC application.
The results were presented by project leaders prof. Dragan Primorac, Ph.D., Damir Hudetz, Ph.D., and prof. Gordan Lauc, Ph.D., accompanied by the team of researchers: Igor Borić, Eduard Rod, Željko Jeleč, Andrej Radić, Trpimir Vrdoljak, Irena Trbojević-Akmačić, Mihovil Plečko and Ozren Polašek.
Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease) is a chronic joint disease characterised by the degeneration of the joint cartilage and the surrounding bone, causing systemic pain and stiffness in the patient, while the high cost of treatment and patients' inability to work has a substantial financial impact on the healthcare system.
The importance of the results collected by the Croatian scientists is best demonstrated by the fact that osteoarthritis is one of the most common health problems in the world, from which more than 400 million people suffer. And, it is predicted that by 2030, more than 700 million people will suffer from this disease. According to available data, about 25% to 30% of the population in Croatia suffers from OA, while the number of OA patients in the United States is over 50 million.
The Special Hospital for Orthopaedics, Surgery, Internal Medicine, Neurology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation St. Catherine is a member of the prestigious group ''The Leading Hospitals of The World''. In June 2015, the International Certification Association (ICERTIAS) claimed St. Catherine Special Hospital to be the best private hospital in Croatia.
In 2017, the European Business Assembly (Oxford, UK) awarded the ''Best Regional Hospital Award'' to St. Catherine Hospital as a recognition for its excellence at European level. In the same year, the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), the leading online medical tourism journal, awarded the hospital an award for excellence and innovation in medical tourism, and St. Catherine was named ''The Best International Special Hospital of the Year''. In September this year, St. Catherine Special Hospital became the first medical institution in Europe to receive the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA).
Genos was founded as an academic startup in 2007 and is the first private DNA laboratory in the region, one of the leading scientific institutions in Croatia in the DNA analysis field, and the world's leading analytics laboratory for glycans. The renowned scientific journal ''The Scientist'' named Genos ''The Best Place to Work'' in the world among 240 biomedical and biotechnological companies. Through its participation in six major FP7 research projects of the European Commission and the five Horizon 2020 projects, Genos has been networked with thirty leading scientific institutions in Europe and the world, which enables outstanding scientific discoveries, which have so far been reported in more than 100 scientific papers published in leading scientific journals and six patents.