Stem cell research

Andy Goldberg

For the first time, a ground-breaking medical innovation that helped the racehorse Dream Alliance to win the Welsh Grand National has been carried out successfully in humans.

After tearing a leg muscle in 2008, the champion thoroughbred was one of the first animals to have its tendinopathy treated using stem cells. The following year, Dream Alliance raced to victory at Chepstow before being retired in 2012.

Now, for the very first time, that same game-changing medical approach has been successfully applied to a human. Jill James, 46, is the first human to have the same treatment after suffering Achilles tendinopathy, a condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness of the Achilles tendon which made walking difficult and bending her ankles painful, especially upon waking after a night’s sleep.

The procedure was carried out by Andy Goldberg (pictured), a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the RNOH and University College London. This could radically change management and treatment of Achilles tendinopathy and other painful and debilitating musculoskeletal conditions. This first-in-man study is funded by the UK Stem Cell Foundation.

The stem cell therapy took stem cells from Mrs James’s pelvis, multiplied them in a lab over several weeks and injected them into her damaged foot. After almost a year, Mrs James can now walk her dog for several miles without pain. She is also able to move her ankles normally within minutes of waking up, something she could not do before.

Mr Goldberg said: “If we can continue to see results like this then it could be a hugely beneficial treatment for lots of people.”

For further information, contact Deirdre Brooking, Research Coordinator on 020 8385 3042 or email

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