There are over 20 million people living with a musculoskeletal condition in the UK.
The impact is huge as these conditions slowly intrude on everyday life – affecting the ability to work, care for family, to move free from pain and live independently. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common musculoskeletal condition and is a consequence of cartilage destruction which leads to intractable joint pain. In the UK approximately one in 10 adults have symptomatic clinically diagnosed OA and currently the use of joint replacement is the only treatment for relieving severe OA. Whilst joint replacements are really successful there are currently long waiting times for surgery and many people are living in constant pain.
However new regenerative techniques using stem cells have been shown to relieve pain, increase mobility and slow or stop OA progression.
NTL BioCell is a newly formed company which is the result of a Joint Venture between the University of Portsmouth and NTL Biologica. Many of you may recognise the name NTL Biologica as this company carried out asymptomatic testing of our staff and students during the COVID pandemic. Although they diversified during the pandemic, NTL Biologica is a regenerative medicine company that isolates bone marrow stem cells from patients.
However, only a small number of stem cells can be obtained from a bone marrow aspirate and in order to increase efficiency of the treatment the number of cells given back to the patients’ need to be increased. In partnership with UoP, BioCell are investing in a state-of-the-art facility for growing stem cells and cartilage cells.
Initially this facility will focus on treating patients with cartilage injuries and OA. In the future, BioCell will diversify and treat other musculoskeletal conditions as well as other diseases. This new facility is being set up in Fareham and will have teaching areas so that undergraduates from the University can be trained and taught how to grow these stem cells according to commercial standards. It will also have a research lab and staff and students at the university are encouraged to carry out joint research projects with BioCell that will result in a new generation of grants, highly cited publications, and hopefully new impactful treatments.