Andrews Research & Education Foundation Part of $13M Clinical Trial for Osteoarthritis

PENSACOLA, Fla. (Sept 23, 2019) — Andrews Research & Education Foundation (AREF) in Pensacola has partnered with four other leading medical research organizations in a $13 million clinical trial studying the ability of stem cells to treat osteoarthritis in the knee.

Along with Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center, Duke University, and Sanford Health, AREF will be testing various types of stem cells that will be used to stimulate cartilage growth in the knee joint. The stem cells are administered to the knee through an ultrasound-guided injection, to ensure the stem cells are accurately placed within the joint. Georgia Institute of Technology will be processing the information gathered at each of the four sites.

“We are really proud to be a part of this multi-center trial,” said Ashton Hayward, AREF President. “This kind of research can potentially change the lives of so many people and extend their quality of life in significant ways. It’s a testament to Dr. Andrews and the physicians here at the Andrews Institute to participate in this study with some of the biggest names in medical research.”

These and other less-invasive techniques, often administered in conjunction with ultrasound, are gaining attention as an alternative to traditional surgery, according to Dr. Josh Hackel, who is the primary investigator for the study at AREF. Hackel hopes this research will validate what he and other physicians have been seeing with their own patients – that stem cells can be a viable option for some patients to avoid having full knee replacement surgery.

Each location in the four-site study will have about 120 subjects for the trial and will be testing stems cells from various sources, including the patient’s fat cells, bone marrow-derived stem cells, and umbilical cord tissue cells. They will monitor how each type of cell interacts with knee tissue and measure cartilage regeneration inside the patient’s knee joint. Dr. Hackel has already started treating his first patients in the study, which will last one year.

This clinical trial is being funded entirely by a grant from Bernie Marcus, founder of the Marcus Foundation and co-founder of Home Depot. Osteoarthritis is an issue that is close to the philanthropist’s heart because his mother was left disabled by the illness at a young age.

For more information regarding this study, please contact at 850-916-8591.