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Stem cells improve the outcome of ACL reconstruction surgery

Sports injuries can happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are among the most common injuries experienced by athletes who play sports like soccer, football and basketball, which involves sudden stops or changes in directions. If the injury is just a sprain, it will like to heal with rest, but if your ACL tears, you might need surgery to fit it.

In the US, more than 300, 000 ACL reconstructions are performed annually. About 20% of them involve replacing the torn ligament with a ligament from another person (allograft). Allografts have certain advantages like shorter operation times. They are suitable as a treatment option for those with multiple ligament injuries.

However, the clinical outcome of surgeries involving allografts is often not satisfactory. Allografts are slower to heal, tend to be weaker, and run the risk of being rejected. This is why the researchers involved in the study were looking at methods to improve ACL reconstruction surgery results.

Using a rabbit model, the researchers showed that bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and decellularized free tendon allografts were effective for improving ACL reconstruction results.

Lu, W, Xu, J, Dong, S. et al. (2019) Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in a Rabbit Model Using a Decellularized Allogenic Semitendinous Tendon Combined with Autologous Bone Marrow‐Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Stem Cells Trans. 8:971–982. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/sctm.18-0132.
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