Student Profile

John Garcia

In vitro investigations towards the optimisation of autologous cell therapies for cartilage repair.

PhD Supervisors:  Dr Karina Wright, Dr Claire Mennan and Professor Sally Roberts.


PhD Summary

Osteoarthritis continues to take its toll on the quality of life of a large proportion of the world’s population. It is the most common form of joint disease, affecting at least 8 million people in the UK. Usually patients undergo joint replacement operations once the disease has progressed to joint failure; this involves major surgery and has numerous associated risks.

At the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital we have been developing cell therapies to treat osteoarthritis at an early stage in order to halt or slow down its progression and negate or delay the need for joint replacement surgery1. Our centre has provided autologous chondrocytes for cartilage repair procedures in ~400 patients with 80% being successful2-3. This project will study several aspects which could improve the outcome for the remaining 20% of patients.

We will examine alternative sources of cells, for example, from the bone, fat, synovium or meniscus (ethical approval is already in place). If these prove suitable they could not only provide a greater number of cells but also reduce donor site morbidity within the cartilage. Combinations of cells (for example, of both cartilage and bone cells) may be advantageous for treating large cartilage defects which often involve the underlying bone.

Our centre is unusual, not only in having our own licensed cell manufacturing facility, but also in growing cells in autologous serum. Whilst autologous serum favours better cell proliferation than using xenogeneic serum, the individual components that may be important for optimal cell expansion have never before been studied

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