A new law has opened the door for cutting edge treatments for knee pain in Taiwan. The pioneering implant therapy known as ACI is now available, and could revolutionize care for people with joint problems. ACI involves grafting some of the patient''s own cartilage cells into the damaged knee, to help it regenerate. The treatment can allow patients to return to normal activity with zero knee pain.

Mr. Chen’s life was brought to a standstill when his knees began to degenerate. He even got an artificial knee replacement. But after successful ACI therapy, now he can walk as well as ever.

Chen Hsin-cheng

Knee replacement patient

From time to time I walk all the way from our house on the first floor up to the 14th floor. I don’t want to take a walking stick or use a wheelchair. I’m autonomous. Today I feel the procedure was really worth it.

Our knee joints are silent heroes, working seamlessly on every step we take. But for many, repetitive strain or a lack of care can damage our knees. In the past, the only solution was to get an artificial knee replacement, which can be tough to recover from. In recent years, ACI has become an alternative.

ACI has been approved by the new Special Medical Treatment Law, and many of Taiwan’s big hospitals have got licenses to offer the therapy. So far, 45 patients have had ACI and experienced the regrowth of their knee cartilage. Early research suggests ACI can reduce knee pain, with little risk of adverse reactions.

Dr. Hsiao Chin-fu

Institute of Population Health Sciences

A truly appropriate study would involve all the participants, all the patients, using the drug. That way, if we collect the data in a routine manner, it won’t be as confined as traditional clinical trials were in the past. The efficacy of the drug will be extended to a wider demographic.

The Institute of Population Health Sciences has signed a contract with a biotech company to further analyze data from nine hospitals, which they hope will expedite clinical trials.

Shih Chung-liang

Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare

You have a guarantee, whether in the research, in the product manufacturing, or among patients. We’ll do everything to push this forward on every level, so that Taiwan can truly become the biotech island of Asia.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare places high hopes in the research. For an aging society, caring for degenerative diseases must be a priority. An exponential number of people will develop joint problems in the coming years, and hospitals want to get ready.