Top award for Kent surgeon's stem cell research

13 December 2016

A Kent professor, who is pioneering stem cell techniques that could massively reduce the need for knee replacement surgery, has been awarded one of the UK’s top medical honours.

Professor A A Shetty, who heads the Kent Knee Unit at the Spire Alexandra Hospital in Chatham, will be presented with the Hunterian Professorship and Medal for 2017 by the Royal College of Surgeons for his research on stem cells in articular cartilage repair.  

Also a Chair of Orthopaedics and Director of stem cell research at Canterbury Christ Church University, Prof Shetty has been developing some of the revolutionary surgical techniques for cartilage repair in partnership with Professor Seok-Jung  Kim, Director of Cell Therapy at the Catholic University and St. Mary’s Hospital, in Seoul, South Korea.

“At the moment we are having great success in a procedure where we take stem cells from the bone marrow, separate them and cover them in a special gel.

“The cells are then implanted into the patient’s damaged cartilage where they then grow to form a complete and functional cartilage.”

The treatment is presently being looked at by NICE (National Institute for Care and Excellence) and Prof Shetty is confident it will be approved.

“As results continue to improve I can see this technique greatly reducing the number of knee replacements and partial replacement that are carried out, particularly on younger people.

“It won’t do away with replacements completely but I predict it will delay such operations for ten to 15 years and, in some cases, mean a replacement operation can be completely avoided.”

Named after the pioneering surgeon scientist John Hunter and dating back over two centuries, the award will be presented at a special ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons of England early in the New Year.

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