ALERT CONTENT PLACEHOLDER

About Us

We are a new centre (to be named) focused on Orthobiologics and Novel Cellular and Gene Therapies for Osteoarthritis. We have recently been funded through a generous gift of $6M from the Schroeder Foundation.

Led by Drs. Sowmya Viswanathan, Christopher Kim and Christian Veillette, this centre will combine scientific rigour and evidence-based medicine to advance research in four pillars:

1. An orthobiologics registry based on an AI approach that will inform a clinic of the future.

2a. A clinical cohort study to understand heterogeneity in patient responses to approved orthobiologic injection.

2b. A Health Canada-authorized clinical trial evaluating bone marrow aspirate, lipoaspirate against platelet-rich plasma.

3. A Health Canada-authorized clinical trial evaluating allogeneic fat-derived mesenchymal stromal cell therapy.

4. Next-generation technologies including gene therapies, 3D printed scaffolds, and pluripotent stem cell-derived immunotherapies to treat osteoarthritis, developed in Viswanathan Lab.

The ultimate beneficiaries will be people living with osteoarthritis who will be offered therapies that are tested, optimized, and customized for their particular profile. This will also secure the position of the Schroeder Arthritis Institute's Division of Orthopedics as a world leader for development of orthobiologics and cell-based therapies.

Our Four Pillars

  • Integration of clinical, education and research excellence to deliver exemplary patient experience and value-based healthcare.
  • Develop algorithms to standardize patient intake, assessment and allocation to orthobiologic treatment in a standardized manner.
  • Collect outcomes in a standardized manner.
  • Using AI, assess patient data to improve patient outcomes and create personalized tailored healthcare delivery.

Research excellence and cohort study. Rapid virtual and in-person interprofessional assessments. Personalized diagnostics. Individualized education and care plans. Personalized treatments. Circle of care communication.
Flowchart detailing the patient journey from intitial assessment. Includes pathway through an Orthobiologics Clinic of the future.

Developing a biosignature that correlates with response to approved anti-inflammatory therapies.

5 circles. Middle circle: Unique hypothesis-driven, data-driven cohort study. Circle at top: Local and systemic inflammation profile. Circle on right side: Psychosocial pain profile. Bottom circle: Injectable/cell profile. Circle on left side: Customized exercise program.

Overview

This is a planned research cohort study involving 400 patients, and 1,600 patient visits over a three-year study. Patients will receive one of four Health Canada-approved orthobiologics (corticosteroid, hyaluronic acid, platelet rich plasma or autologous protein solution).

Rationale

Pain treatment options in osteoarthritis (OA) have changed little over the years and significant challenges remain in effective symptomatic treatment of OA. Anti-inflammatory knee injections have become a treatment option and increasingly patients are inquiring about and requesting such injections.

However, treatment response is variable, and it is unclear who responds and does not respond to current intra-articular injections. Options of injections, as well as costs, continue to increase due to uncertainty in response; many approved injectates are not covered by public or private insurance and therefore present a significant clinical and economic challenge to patients and their providers with regards to one choosing the right patient for an injection and two the best injection for that patient.

Objectives

The main goal of our study is to determine 1) who responds or does not respond to intra-articular anti-inflammatory injections and 2) why they respond the way they do. Our ultimate aim is to be able to predict patient response prior to injection and be able to develop and provide the right therapeutic to the right patient, at the right time, and at the right value.

Hypothesis

Levels of baseline inflammation correlates with patient response to anti-inflammatory therapies. We further hypothesize that regional levels of inflammation are more correlative than systemic inflammation based on cohort study we completed that show strong inverse correlation of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMS) in knee OA patients with regional but not systemic levels of immune cells (Gómez-Aristizábal et al. 2019), and this is supported by other studies in the literature as well.


Stay tuned for enrollment into this cohort study.

Diagram of injection schedule over 3, 6 and 12 months. 200+ Patients (knee and shoulder). 800 patient visits. 2-year study. Prospective, randomized, controlled 12-month, multi-centre clinical trial.

Main objective

This study will determine the efficacy of intra-articular injection of bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) or autologous lipoaspriate with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) against PRP in patients with knee or shoulder osteoarthritis. Efficacy will be measured as improvement in pain at 12 months after injection, relative to baseline and will be compared against PRP response rates. Drop out/failure rate (based on provided definition) will also be assessed in each group over the 12-month period, and specifically at 3, 6 and 12 months.

Secondarily functional joint-specific outcomes will be measured after BMAC, LA +PRP or PRP injections at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months. Heterogeneity in cellular composition of BMA and LA will be assessed. As in the LEAP in BIO cohort study, heterogeneity in local and systemic immune cell profile and inflammatory profile will also be assessed.

Exploratory objectives

AI approaches will be used to identify unique inflammatory, immune cell profiles agnostic to response status to determine whether these unbiased profiles correlate to or accurately predict response or in combination with other factors enhance our ability to predict response compared to clinically biased profiles. Health economics of receiving the different injections and cost of health care delivery will also be compared, post hoc.


Stay tuned for updates on the start and enrollment into this study.

We plan to conduct a bridging Health Canada authorized clinical trial on 40 knee OA patients using allogeneic adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (AD-MSCs). This trial is a bridge between our previously conducted autologous bone marrow-derived MSCs (Chahal et al. 2019) and autologous AD-MSCs trial conducted by collaborators in Europe (Pers et al., 2017). The bridging trial will assess safety and efficacy relative to baseline at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months using Knee Outcome and Osteoarthritis Scores (KOOS) and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) as PROMS, x-ray and MRI imaging and evaluation of local immune cell profile (synovial fluid at baseline and 3 months post-injection) and systemic inflammatory profile.

As a first step in this project, bioreactor(s) to scale up and produce Master Cell Banks (MCB) of allogenic AD-MSCs will be evaluated for MSC yield, potency, ease of use, cost and regulatory support. Data from these engineering runs will be used to support the regulatory Clinical Trial Application (CTA) filing.

Chart showing the steps involved in scaling production of cell cultures of AD-MSCs.
First step = scaling up production of AD-MSCs

This last pillar is focused on forward-looking therapies being developed in the research lab of Dr. Viswanathan. We are looking at several next-generation technologies in the pipeline including genetically engineered allogeneic MSCs, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived MSCs, and iPSC-derived and genetically engineered monocyte/macrophages, 3D printed synovial tissue/MSC-differentiated chondrocytes, etc.

These are largely research stage projects involving laboratory proof-of-concept experiments and animal studies and will pave the way for next-generation of OA cellular therapeutics which can be translated into the clinic.

A strong research arm will ensure a pipeline of new and emerging technologies that can be translated into clinical practice using the know-how we obtain from the other pillars, especially in terms of targeting appropriate patients and matching them with the most effective anti-inflammatory treatments.


Our Team

Leads

Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan

Dr. Sowmya Viswanathan
Scientist, Schroeder Arthritis Institute/Krembil Research Institute
Associate Professor, University of Toronto
Viswanathan Lab

Dr. Christian Veillette

Dr. Christian Veillette
Head, Division of Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. Chris Kim

Dr. Chris Kim
Orthopedic Surgeon


Co-Investigators

  • Dr. Abdullah Abdullah
  • Dr. Darrell Ogilive Harris
  • Dr. Jaskarndip Chahal (Women's College Hospital)
  • Dr. Raj Rampersaud
  • Dr. Anthony Perruccio
  • Dr. Rajiv Gandhi
  • Dr. Igor Jurisica
  • Dr. Mohit Kapoor

Support Team

  • Dr. Osvaldo Espin-Garcia
  • Dr. Elizabeth Scheid
  • Dr. Aida Barazandeh Feiz
  • Luis Montoya
  • Rose Wong
  • Kevin Fan