Taglines recent story - Injured athlete plans return to competitive karate

Journalist Jenny Ljunggren recently returned to Melbourne Stem Cell Centre to follow up with our lead researcher Dr Julien Freitag after his British Medical Journal publication


Injured athlete plans return to competitive karate

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre patient and personal trainer Stephenie Harris, who was the subject of a British Medical Journal Case Report outlining how stem cells had regrown cartilage in her knee joint, is looking forward to returning to karate training later this year.

Stephenie was left unable to walk up and down stairs or kneel without extreme pain because she lost a one-centimetre square piece of cartilage in her knee during a national karate competition.

Stephanie had been unable to train for four years but returned to gym training last year after successful stem cell treatment at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre.

The British Medical Journal and media reported that Stephenie’s knee could not be fixed with surgery or traditional medical treatments.

But in the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre trial, in which Stephenie’s own stem cells were harvested and expanded and injected into her knee joint, the one-centimetre hole filled with regrown cartilage, allowing her to resume a normal routine.

Pain free

“I’m finally pain free doing daily tasks” Stephenie said. “I can actually stand up and sit down like a normal person.”

Stephenie returned to her job as a personal trainer and could lift weights and move freely.

Stephenie said her knee had improved to the point where she had reduced pain after six months of stem cell treatment and she had almost full movement and significantly reduced pain after a year.

But a shoulder reconstruction has slowed her return to karate training.

“My shoulder popped out while surfing because the surrounding muscles were weak and the joint was unstable,” she said.

Stephenie said that as well as concentrating on her shoulder rehabilitation over the next six months, she is also working on ensuring she has full strength and movement in her legs.

Explosive movement

“Karate requires agility and explosive movement,” she said “and I want to ensure my knee and shoulder are strong and stable before I get back in the ring.”

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre’s Associate Professor Dr Julien Freitag said: “The recovery of Stephenie’s cartilage was remarkable and is an indication of the reparative potential of stem cell therapies in cartilage injuries and osteoarthritis.  The improvements seen in Stephanie and other participants within our research drives us to further develop this promising therapy.”

New laws welcomed

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre, one of Australia’s leading stem cell research clinics has also welcomed proposed new regulations governing the use of stem cells in Australia.

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre, which has proven in ethics approved human trials that damaged cartilage in knees can be regrown using stem cells, took part in consultations aimed at bringing Australian regulations into closer alignment with the United States and the European Union.

Details of one of the Melbourne Stem Cell Centre’s successful trials has been published in the British Medical Journal Case Report.

In a statement, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said: “The new approach by government is designed to provide graduated regulatory oversight of these products commensurate with the safety risks to patients.”

The changes affect autologous human cell and tissue products which are those that are removed from and applied to the same person, so the donor and the recipient are the same, the TGA said.

Associate Professor Dr Julien Freitag, Melbourne Stem Cell Centre’s lead researcher, said: “Melbourne Stem Cell Centre has actively engaged with the TGA throughout the development of these new regulations.  

“We support the changes and believe that they ensure appropriate research and ongoing development of biological therapies including stem cell therapies.  

“Within these new regulations we are already planning exciting further clinical research which is built upon the results of our earlier studies.”

Written by Jenny Ljunggren

Christmas Newsletter

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All the staff at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre would like to wish our patients, referrers, partners and their extended families a Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous 2018.

The team at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre have worked tirelessly this year to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of stem cell research. In mid September we had a case report published in the British Medical Journal of Case Reports regarding one of our young patients who, after a traumatic injury, has had regeneration of cartilage. In late October Associate Professor Freitag was interviewed regarding his recent publication in the British Medical Journal of Case Reports.

MSCC has been consulting with the Therapeutic Goods Administration regarding safeguards when using stem cells for therapeutic purposes. We support tightening of the regulation in this area to promote scientific research in this area and encourage all treatments to be done in a safe and ethical manner. If you would like to read more on our view on the safe use of stem cells please click here 

In September our Practice Manager, Renee, commenced maternity leave and in early October welcomed her daughter, Logan, into the world. We look forward to Renee returning to MSCC in mid-2018. Lesley-Ann is currently holding the fort whist Renee is away on leave. 

We have a new nurse/receptionist, Phoebe, to welcome to the team at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre. Phoebe comes from a background in aged care, and graduated her enrolled nursing course this year. She looks forward to developing her nursing career with us in 2018.  


Next year, in conjunction with Magellan Stem Cells, we will commence a study on treatment using allogeneic stem cells. This is still in its infancy but if you would like to stay up to date on this or any other further studies we hope to conduct, please click here to be added to our ongoing research database.

Our General Manager headed over to the USA to attend an International Sports Medicine Conference at which Regenerative Medicine was a major focus. At MSCC we like to stay up to date on all the latest research in the area of regenerative medicine.


We also welcomed a new doctor to our team, Dr Abi Tenen. Dr Tenen has come on board as a procedualist  to complete our lipoharvest procedures and will be working closely with Associate Professor Freitag and his patients. Welcome Dr Tenen.

Two of our doctors also do stem cell consults at other clinics in the South Eastern suburbs. If you have back pain and would like to consider stem cell treatment, please contact the clinic and we will get you an appointment with our back specialist, Dr Dan Bates who is consulting out of Metropain Group in Clayton.

If you are located on the Peninsula or would like to consult with a female doctor please contact the clinic and we will arrange an appointment with our senior sports medicine physician, Dr Leesa Huguenin, in Box Hill or one of her other practices in Berwick, Frankston or Mornington

 We will be closing over the Christmas period from Friday 22nd December to Sunday 7th January inclusive. 

We will be closing over the Christmas period from Friday 22nd December to Sunday 7th January inclusive. 

Associate Professor Freitag’s last day is Wednesday 20th Dec and first day back is Monday 8th Jan. Dr Huguenin is away from the clinic from 15th November and returns Wednesday 7th Feb, but she is still contactable at her clinics in Mornington.

From the team at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre have a safe and merry Christmas.

Breakthrough Technology Helps Melbourne Karate Champion

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Stem cells have been used to regrow the missing sections of a karate champion’s knee in a breakthrough Melbourne case that raises hopes for the wider use of the technique. Stephanie Harris, 30, plans to resume training later this year after stem cells were injected into a knee, resulting in cartilage growth filling a 1cm hole that could not be repaired by surgery or traditional medical treatments.

The extraordinary regrowth of Ms Harris’s knee cartilage came as a world-first stem cell trial continues at Melbourne Stem Cell Centre.

The trial has resulted in about 70 per cent of patients being able to stabilise conditions, such as osteo­arthritis, reduce pain and improve function. The 2016 experimental treatment has given Ms Harris back her career as a personal trainer, a pain-free life, and the hope others may be able to benefit in the future.

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“Probably about six months after (the procedure), I started to notice I could have free movement,” Ms Harris said.

“It just felt better and then a year later I had a lot better movement and could actually stand up and sit down like a normal person, without having to shift to one side.

“It hasn’t deteriorated or anything and the cartilage is just going to keep maturing.

“I have seen enough improvement in myself to know that by the end of the year, I will be able to train again.” Stephanie Harris is thankful for the chance to fight again. 

Melbourne Stem Cell Centre lead researcher Assoc Prof Dr Julien Freitag said Ms Harris was a unique case as a young national-level athlete with a traumatic knee injury that could be disabling for the rest of her life. “For her to have regrown an entire area of cartilage lost, for her pain and function to have improved significantly to the point where she can now work and pursue her sport and leisure pursuits as she would like, is just a fantastic outcome,” Dr Freitag said.

Ms Harris’s recovery was last week published in the BMJ Case Reportsjournal. MRI scans show complete cartilage ­regeneration. Researchers concluded the case provided an indication mesenchymal stem-cell therapy might offer a treat­ment for similar conditions.

The Melbourne clinic is also undertaking two separate trials involving 70 patients receiving stem-cell treatment to overcome joint conditions but, while seven out of 10 patients had a measurable benefit, Assoc Prof Freitag said the results were more modest at this stage.

After having a promising karate career taken away when she landed awkwardly at the 2014 National Karate Championships, Ms Harris is thankful for the chance to fight again.

“I just wanted to finish my career on my terms because I felt when I had that injury, it was taken from me ­prematurely,” she said.

Article Written & Provided By The Herald Sun

British Medical Journal Case Report Features Melbourne Stem Cell Centre Patient

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The British Medical Journal has published a case report on a Melbourne karate champion who damaged the cartilage in her knee and found she was unable to stand up or sit down "like a normal person". The full British Medical Journal report on her progress can be read here. 

Regenerative Medicine Now And In The Future – Part Two


Written by Mr Michael Kenihan. 


I recently attended the American College of Sports medicine meeting in Denver Colorado.

Eminent scientist, Thomas Best also spoke about the emerging research in stem cell therapy.

He spoke in detail about where the world of stem cell research is at in the current literature and the role that stem cells will play in regenerative medicine. To summarise he detailed stem cells the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good: there is strong evidence that stem cell treatment is entirely safe to use and growing evidence that stem cells have a disease modifying effect on osteoarthritis.


The bad: there is only poor quality studies in the literature.

MSCC and Magellan Stem Cells  are hoping to add to that body of evidence when we commence our Allogeneic trial in the near future.  That is in addition to the more recent trial we have conducted and the preliminary results that detail the efficacy of stem cells in reducing pain and improving function along with, in some cases, regeneration of what appears to be type one cartilage.
The ugly: the advent of unscrupulous operators who are promoting “stem cell tourism” are causing headaches for regulators and in some instances severe adverse consequences for the un-suspecting and desperate public.

I want to advise you that MSCC and Magellan Stem Cells are working at the forefront of the emerging stem cell industry and will continue to support everything we do with evidence based treatments.  In 2016 Melbourne Stem Cell Centre became concerned around the need for stem cell treatments to be based on good science. If you would like to read more about this please click here

For more information about this treatment please contact the clinic at info@mscc.com.au. To stay up to date on all of our current research please subscribe to our joint pain or back pain database.


Does Stem Cell Therapy Really Work for Knee Osteoarthritis?

To discover more about our research and findings about stem-cell therapy, with regard to knee osteoarthritis, please feel free to contact us on (03) 9270 8000 or info@mscc.com.au.