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Impact Magazine: Aching Achilles?

Regenerative Medicine Promises New Cure for Chronic Tendon Injuries

By Dr. Jack Taunton

A Regerative Cell therapy is now being tested on people suffering from chronic Achilles tendinosis at the Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of British Columbia. ________________________________________________________________________

Clinical researchers are testing a treatment developed by RepliCel Life Sciences called RCT-01 which is manufactured personally for each patient using specialized cells isolated from their own hair follicles. Several weeks after the collection of a single-suture biopsy taken from the back of the patient’s scalp, the product, a suspension of their own cells, is injected, under ultrasound guidance, into the injured tendon to promote its repair, Capturerestore function and eliminate pain.

It is exciting that following nearly 20 years of tendinopathy research, the medical community, at last, may have an answer for patients with chronic tendinopathy which current treatments simply cannot address.

Achilles tendinosis is a painful overuse injury that affects the lower leg. Often caused by a cycle of injury, improper healing and re-injury, chronic tendinosis is an accumulation of micro-tears which leads to structural degeneration of the tendon associated with weakness, loss of function, chronic pain and susceptibility to re-tearing and further injury.

Physiotherapy and dextrose injections are the most common treatments, but often don’t heal all the micro-tears. Up to 30 per cent of patients don’t satisfactorily improve despite following the prescribed protocols.

This is where the injection under ultrasound guidance comes into play. RCT-01 is a cell therapy product made from fibroblast cells that express high levels of Type 1 collagen – the key and missing ingredient needed to permanently heal the micro-tears and fully repair the tendon. In an injured tendon, these fibroblasts (or tenocytes as they are called when resident in a tendon) are simply exhausted and incapable of the Type 1 collagen production needed, or lay down the weak Type 3 collagen highly susceptible to re-tearing. RCT-01 is an ultrasound guided injection of fresh fibroblasts highly expressive of the Type 1 collagen needed to permanently repair the tendon and return the patient to full function.

RepliCel plans to expand clinical testing of its product to other areas of tendinosis (e.g., knee, elbow, etc.) as well as investigating both the treatment’s long-term durability and its potential to treat the more acute and inflammatory tendinitis, which often precedes the chronic condition.

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Find the full article in Impact Magazine on Pg. 78.

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