Healing from within: bio-treatments on the rise for osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one the developed world’s most common diseases, with over 80% of the senior population suffering from knee or hip OA. With a rapidly aging global population and over half of OA patients suffering from symptomatic pain, it is little wonder that there are a wide variety of surgical treatments available.  Despite the increasing lifespans of orthopedic implants and the safety of minimally invasive procedures, many patients remain reluctant to undergo operations and are opting to explore orthobiologic options such as hyaluronic or stem cell injections instead.

This sector is experiencing healthy growth, with a 6% compound annual growth rate expected for years to come.  Industry players are developing new injectable options as demand for viscosupplementation, a technology that uses injections to cushion the joint with worn cartilage, grows.

"Many [OA] patients remain reluctant to undergo operations and are opting to explore orthobiologic options."

Most injectables use hyaluronic acid but many players are moving towards other biological approaches, such as harvesting and injecting patients’ own stem cells. Regenexx has offered stem cell injections for several years, and its co-founder has boldly predicted that the company’s technology will eventually replace orthopedic surgery. Mimedx has continued to aggressively push its studies of Purion Processed AmnioFix, an injectable that could be used to protect the knee’s collagen matrix and expand treatment options for osteoarthritis of the knee using amniotic tissues. 

Injectable treatments are popular as, unlike implantation surgery, patients are not forced to take time off of work to recover. Earning losses due to osteoarthritis are estimated to reach $20bn a year due to loss of work through symptom management and surgical recovery times. Meanwhile, orthobiologic injectables have minimal recovery times and some require only one injection. Hyaluronic acid supplements add cushioning and help manage pain, but stem cell or amniotic tissue injectables can help patients regenerate new cartilage. As patients continue to opt towards regenerative non-invasive procedures, companies like Mimedx and Regenexx could very well be at the forefront of the future of standard orthopedic treatments.