Carticel, created by Genzyme Biosurgery, has been shown to be longitudinally effective in treating patients with cartilage damage in the knee. According to a recent press release, 85 percent of patients with damaged cartilage at the part of the knee formed by the thighbone showed improvement four years after treatment.
Carticel is used to treat cartilage defects in the thighbone part of the knee when arthroscopic or other surgical procedures are ineffective. The treatment consists of taking a sample of healthy cartilage cells from the patient and growing a large sample of these cells in the lab. The new cells are then implanted into the damaged area where they continue to regenerate and interact with the already present cells.
Genzyme tracks the clinical effectiveness of Carticel through the Cartilage Repair Registry, a report that records the status of patients who have received Carticel treatment. The report assesses four key measures: clinician evaluation of knee condition, patient evaluation of knee condition, patient reports of symptoms and knee examination results.
According to the clinician and patient evaluations, patients improved from a rating of between poor and fair prior to treatment to a rating of good four years after treatment. This indicates that at the 48-month point, patients were able to conduct daily activities without limitations and were able to participate in sports if compensation for limitations were used.
With patient symptoms measured on a scale of one to ten, patients reported that after four years, pain, swelling and partial and full giving way of the knee improved about two to three points each. Moreover, improvements in symptoms were sustained over time as the scores showed little change between 12 and 48 months.
Knee examinations also revealed effectiveness of Carticel. According to surgeons’ examinations, the number of patients with joint line pain and swelling decreased significantly at four years as compared to prior to surgery.
In terms of the treatment as a whole, as of November 1999, 92% of all patients worldwide reported having no complications with Carticel. Since Genzyme began keeping the Cartilage Repair Registry, 94% of patients have not needed further surgery after Carticel treatment.