Staggeringly, jelly could be the answer for those with damaged knee joints, as researchers hope that it will inspire growth.
According to the Daily Mail, an injection of what’s called Wharton’s jelly – found in donated umbilical cords – could help treat worn-out joints. Scientists hope the injection will stimulate the growth of cushioning cartilage once injected into the knees of patients with osteoarthritis.
Tests on animals suggest the jelly can potentially reverse damage to joints caused by the condition. A trial of 12 patients will test its effect in humans. Wharton jelly is the mucoid connective tissue that surrounds the two arteries and one vein of the umbilical cord.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in Australia. An estimated 2.2 million (9.3%) Australians have this condition, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS) .
Although osteoarthritis affects people of all ages, the prevalence increases sharply from the age of 45 years. 1 in 5 Australians (22%) over the age of 45 have osteoarthritis. It is most common in adults aged 75 and over, with just over one-third (36%) of people in this age group experiencing the condition.
Scientists have been investigating whether stem cells could reverse joint damage, with most studies focussing on stem cells harvested from either a donor or from the patient’s own bone marrow, taken from their hips using a needle under local anaesthetic.
Jelly from umbilical cords is not only rich in stem cells but research shows these immature cells are unlikely to be rejected. It’s unlikely that this would be the ideal after-dinner treat, nor does it wobble in a Santa-like manner. Different stuff.
Several studies have concluded that stem cell therapy improves arthritis symptoms of the knee. While overall results are promising, more research is needed, with the additional complicating factor of the costs, estimated to be several thousands of dollars per knee, with most insurance companies not covering the treatment as yet.
In a feature for Science Direct on Regeneration of Ischemic Cardiovascular Damage Using Wharton’s Jelly as an Unlimited Source of Therapeutic Stem Cells, the authors concluded that Wharton’s Jelly’s features make it extremely promising cells for future regenerative therapy in cardiovascular disorders.
“However, there is still a demand for large comprehensive, randomized, controlled trials that establishes crucial features of MSC in CVDs (e.g., number of cells, time, and method of application). Nevertheless, the future for perinatal cells in regenerative medicine is bright.”
So, sing along now: “I like Wharton’s Jelly…. Wharton’s Jelly for me!!!”