Drug fails to grow knee cartilage

February 13, 2007|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

SAN DIEGO -- Osiris Therapeutics' experimental stem cell treatment for patients with damage to the knee cartilage, or meniscus, didn't stimulate growth of new cartilage in 55 patients taking part in a clinical study, the company said yesterday.

About a third of the patients treated with the stem cell product, called Chondrogen, did show signs of reversal of arthritis symptoms, said C. Randal Mills, chief executive officer of the Baltimore company, in an interview yesterday at a stem cell conference in San Diego.

Mills said that, while he was "disappointed" with the failure to show cartilage regeneration, the company would wait to see how patients fared a full year after the treatment. The patients would reach that point in April, he said.

"Our hope is that we'll see that the treated group does better in their quality of life," Mills said. That's the real goal of the treatment, he said.

Patients enrolled in the study all had a torn meniscus, which acts as a shock absorber for the knee. Eighteen of the patients treated with stem cells had shown signs of arthritis when the study began.

After six months, six of them showed a reduction in those symptoms, Mills said. Among the patients who had signs of arthritis and were given placebos, none showed a reduction in those symptoms, he said.

The company released the news after stock markets closed yesterday. During the regular session, Osiris' shares declined 29 cents to $20.55. They declined another 58 cents to $19.97 in after-hours trading.

Over the past 12 months, the shares have risen 87 percent, but they've dropped 19 percent so far this year.

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