Hongsik Jake Cho, a researcher at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in the US, is initiating a project to accelerate progress in stem cell treatment for post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA).

UTHSC orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering associate professor Dr Cho has received a $1.56m rehabilitation research and development award from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The award will support his study for four years.

Dr Cho will study a two-step method for improving the unhealthy environment in the arthritic knee joint.

The first step involves the use of nanosomes to deliver anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances directly to the affected area to lower inflammation and counteract harmful oxidative stress effects.

In the second step, the longevity of transplanted stem cells is enhanced through a pre-transplantation antioxidant treatment.

This procedure further extends the timeframe of stem cells to exert their immune-suppressive functions and engage in cartilage repair.

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The pretreatment approach using the nanosome technique aims to improve stem cell viability.

Dr Cho will test this intervention in an animal model and the data collected will be used for potential future treatments in patients.

Dr Cho stated: “By studying this treatment strategy, we hope to develop a better understanding of how to improve the conditions in arthritic joints and increase the chances of successful stem cell therapy.

“This research is an important step in bringing new treatments to patients with PTOA.”

PTOA is a disabling condition that occurs after a single or repeated injury. Veterans in particular are at high risk of developing this condition and it is mostly observed in younger individuals.