Stem Cell Therapy for Knees - Marketing Hype, Scam or Science?

The usual job of joint cartilage is to promote smooth movement of joint surfaces and protect bones from friction. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common chronic degenerative disorders and it very often affects the knee, causing deterioration of its joint cartilage over time.

If you are new to stem cells, check out stem cell basics.

Stem cell therapy for knees is minimally invasive. It’s a procedure that can decrease inflammation, slow and repair all these forms of damage from arthritis, and delay or prevent knee replacement surgery. As studies continue, the forms and combinations of stem cell preparations are improving, and outcomes are expected to improve as well.

In one study, patients experienced improvement in both knees even though only one knee was injected. Although natural deterioration of the knee continues, at five years, those knees that are injected with stem cells are in better shape than they were before the injections.

Researchers believe that stem cell therapy for the knee works by:
  • developing into essential cartilage cells
  • thwarting the inflammation that can worsen arthritis
  • releasing proteins called cytokines that slow degeneration of cartilage and reduce pain
A serious gap in knowledge remains whether the currently used cellular treatments are beneficial in the long term and if one cell therapy outperforms another.

Stem Cell Knee Repair Cost

A review of multiple medical institutions reveals an average cost for stem cell treatment for knees of approximately USD 3,000 to  USD 5,000 per knee, depending largely on geographical location.

Most insurance companies don’t cover stem cell injections yet, but that may be starting to change as more research accumulates showing the effectiveness of the process.

People typically complete the procedure in one visit, but usually have an initial consultation and a follow-up appointment. The injections take approximately two to three hours.

Related: Stem Cell Knee Repair Cost in Malaysia

Stem Cell Clinical Trials for Knees 2020

Here, we have compiled and updated a few significant studies and related review to stem cell therapy for knee pain.

Clinical Study of Intra Articular Injection of Catholic MASTER Cell (Bone Marrow Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell) in Knee Osteoarthritis
First posted: Jan 2020
Condition: Knee osteoarthritis
Treatment: Injection of 100 million human bone marrow-derived MSCs (Catholic MASTER Cells) obtained from the Catholic Institute of Cell Therapy (CIC, Seoul, Korea).
Location: South Korea

This list is a work-in-progress list as new evidence might be added from time to time.

Currently recruiting new patients:
  1. Clinical Study of Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells (UC-MSC) for Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis - Shangdong, China
  2. Treatment of Early Knee Osteoarthritis With Autologous Adipose-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells - Shangdong, China
  3. Multicenter Trial of Stem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis (MILES) - United States.
The review and analysis concluded that MSC therapies in the treatment of knee OA are safe and have shown promising results but the available studies are limited. At this time, no definitive recommendations can be made regarding which MSC source to use. Allogeneic (source from different individuals) MSCs offer theoretical advantages over autologous (source from self) MSCs, especially in ease of use and consistency of product, but there are concerns regarding cell viability and vitality, as well as the body's response to non-autologous products. Future clinical trials should focus on head-to-head comparisons of MSC sources as well as the use of multiple injections for patients with knee OA.


Several other comparative studies have demonstrated good evidence in the treatment of osteoarthritis. However, there are several approaches and cell lines used. More well-designed and randomised controlled trials are needed to evaluate the best approach and universal consensus. As studies continue, the methods, forms and combinations of stem cell preparations are improving, and outcomes are expected to improve as well.

Find Stem Cell Therapy Clinics in Malaysia > Stem Cell Therapy for Knees in Malaysia.


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