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Newcastle/Keele/Aberdeen Stem Cell Research

tamlintamlin Posts: 5
Can anyone tell me what the current progress is – or otherwise - vis-à-vis the Newcastle/Keele/Aberdeen stem cell research? How is it reported in both the professional (which journals are papers published etc) and public theatres? Some of my questions are quite simple: how is this work (and the results) co-ordinated and progress assessed? Are budgetary limitations affecting the progress of the work? Are the research teams looking for that ‘eureka’ moment – or is it simply a long deductive/experimental process? What length of time constant is associated with this research reaching the public domain? I am aware that cartilage can be converted to bone. Does reciprocity apply to this reaction? Is there any scientific evidence that cartilage can be 'regrown'?

Like many on this forum, I have no cartilage left in hips (due to osteoarthritis) and have been informed by an orthopaedic surgeon that hip replacement is the only course of action. I accept this, but the issue that shocked me slightly was the orthopaedic surgeon’s (age – at a guess early 40’s) lack of interest in the causes and true nature of osteoarthritis. He couldn’t answer any of my scientific related questions, especially in relation to stem cell growth. I wish there was some conduit by which ordinary members of the public could ask scientifically orientated questions in relation to osteoarthritis.


  • helpline_teamhelpline_team Posts: 2,016
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi tamlin

    Thank you for your forum posting. As we are not a researched based organisation, unfortunately I’m unable to provide you with the stem cell research you are looking for. I wonder if Arthritis Research UK could be helpful with regards to the research (they are the research body for arthritis in the UK) http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/

    You say that you have osteoarthritis in your hips and the surgeon you’ve seen has suggested that a hip replacement is the only course of action. We’re not medically qualified however, we are able to talk about your arthritis. We can explore options with you as well as providing information and offering a listening ear.
    I wonder if you posted on our ‘living with arthritis’ forum http://arthritiscareforum.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=8 you may find the experiences of others of help.

    You are most welcome to give us a ring on our Helplines 0808 800 4050 (Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm) here we can chat to you informally and in confidence.

    Best wishes
  • tamlintamlin Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for such a prompt and thoughtful response Lynda. I thought there might just be an outside chance that a member of this team would scan these postings occasionally.

    Osteoarthritis highlights the desperate importance for multidisciplinary teams to work together. I have no doubt that the issue of ‘squeaking’ in relation to ceramic implants could be solved if addressed by a competent (Ph.D level) tribologist, mechanical engineer (with good hands-on experience) and enthusiastic surgeon.

    Members of the medical profession should spend more time hanging out with practising engineers :)
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm an ordinary forum member, not one of the Helpline team, tamin.

    I think ortho surgeons are the 'demolition men/builders' of the medical world. I don't mind if mine has no interest at all in my RA/OA as long as he does a good repair job and, so far, (2 hips/3 knees) they've been brilliant.

    In my early years of RA I really did expect every new bit of research to translate into a spanking new body for me :roll: Fifty three years on I'm a little more sceptical :lol: – and realistic. My advice would be to take what's on offer and don't hang around waiting for something better to arrive.

    As for 'Members of the medical profession should spend more time hanging out with practising engineers' – they do. When I got my first TKRs, back in 1981, a friend who was working in bio-engineering brought me one of the knees to look at. He helped to make them and was very proud on how much better their model was than previous ones.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • tamlintamlin Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the thoughtful response stickywicket – even more so when you are suffering from both RA and OA, yet still carry on smiling :) I think an orthopaedic surgeon should possess a catholic background in respect of skills and knowledge and would cite the cobalt/chromium debacle (metal implants) as one of the reasons. IMO the best orthopaedic surgeon would be an individual who’d read for a mechanical/electrical engineering degree and then subscribed to the 4 year medical conversion course. So, by this stage he/she has a good grasp of force/stress analysis + material science. Why, for example does one still observe a 20 year (typically) limit for a hip replacement? Conversely why have some hip replacement lasted 60 [1] and 45 years [2] respectively? ‘Cement’ failure appears to be one of the principal causes – and another reason why the medical profession should work more closely with material scientists. If an adhesive can be created to ensure heat resistant tiles don’t detach from the space shuttle, then devising a more appropriate cement cannot be such an onerous task.

    If one reads medicine then one will, inevitably, possess a curious and enquiring mind…….and stem cell research is just the kind of intellectual platform to excite a curious orthopaedic medical mind :) Performing the same operations day in, day out, dealing with difficult patients, getting angry with hospital politics, wearing acceptable ‘regulation’ clothes (and hairstyles :) ) isn’t the recipe for a happy doctor/surgeon [3]. I noticed you made a reference to ‘he’ (para 2 line 2), which is why I have cited reference 3. There are some extremely competent female surgeons – including orthopaedics – within the medical community and Dr. Weston details their struggles with great clarity. One senses that female medical practitioners possess a higher level of emotional intelligence compared with their male counterparts – and suspect they do, on occasions, return home feeling rather depressed :(.

    I will heed your advice

    Kind regards,


    [1] See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6971954.stm
    [2] See: http://bonesmart.org/forum/threads/longevity-of-hip-implant-45-years-life-span-for-a-hip-replacement.248/
    [3] Weston, G. ‘Direct Red: a surgeon’s story’ Jonathan Cape 2009 (Also broadcast as Radio 4 Friday play – See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00z62nv )
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