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Press release


Regenerative cell therapy after hip fractures

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HIPGEN and five other projects with Charité involvement awarded EU funding

Hosted by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin’s Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery (CMSC) and Berlin Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT), the HIPGEN project aims at improving recovery following hip replacement surgery. The project centers around a phase III clinical trial, which will study the effects of an allogenic cell therapy on the post-surgery healing of injured muscles. HIPGEN is an international collaboration, and has been made possible by the Horizon 2020 research funding program, which awarded the project a total of €7.4 million. Aside from having a coordinating role on the HIPGEN project, Charité is involved in five other projects funded by the same EU funding program.

At an incidence of approximately half a million cases per year, hip fractures present considerable challenges to EU health care providers. With cases mainly found among older people, the health care needs associated with hip fractures continue to increase. Degenerative aging processes, muscle loss, and age-related changes affecting the immune system mean that patients usually have a reduced capacity for regeneration. The HIPGEN study’s innovative approach is aimed at improving muscle function following surgery, and involves the use of regenerative cell therapy in patients undergoing hip replacement surgery. “During surgery, special cells known as ‘PLX-PAD’ cells are injected into the damaged muscle tissue. These cells are harvested from the placenta, and possess a range of regenerative and immunomodulatory properties,” explains project coordinator PD Dr. Tobias Winkler, an orthopedic surgeon at the Center for Musculoskeletal Surgery (CMSC), and Head of Musculoskeletal Cell Therapy at Charité’s Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) and Julius Wolff Institute (JWI).

In addition to stimulating regenerative processes, this intervention is also aimed at reducing stress-induced changes in the patient’s immune function seen postoperatively. The project’s international team of researchers and physicians aims to both speed up patient mobilization and recovery following surgery, and to reduce mortality. There are no treatments available today that are capable of comprehensively addressing these problems. “For the first time, our phase III clinical trial will study the effects of an allogenic cell treatment on both postoperative muscle healing and associated improvements in mobility following hip surgery,” explains PD Winkler. He adds: “Conventional treatments primarily focus on treating the actual fracture, but fail to address the deleterious effects associated with impaired mobility and stress.”

The project represents an international cooperation, and involves a number of clinical and academic institutions, industrial partners, and patient organizations. The HIPGEN project is being conducted in cooperation with the BCRT and the JWI (local leads: Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Volk and Prof. Dr. Georg Duda), as well as the CMSC (local leads: Prof. Carsten Perka and Prof. Dr. Michael Schütz). The study is based on comprehensive preclinical research as well as a phase II clinical trial, which was able to show that placental derived cells injected into muscle tissue lead to improvements in the contraction force and volume of muscles injured during hip surgery.

Partners involved in the HIPGEN project are: Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Germany), University of Oxford NDORMS (UK), Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Odense University Hospital (Denmark), Centro di Ricerca E. Menni, Fondazione Poliambulanza-Istituto Ospedaliero (Italy), Pluristem Therapeutics Ltd. (Isarel), Cytolon Digital Health AG (Germany), ICON Clinical Research (Ireland), International Osteoporosis Foundation (Switzerland), ALTA Ricerca e Sviluppo in Biotecnologie Srlu (Italy). The European Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding program is aimed at economic development which promotes competitiveness and sustainability. In addition to successfully bidding for funding for its HIPGEN project, Charité will also be a consortium partner in 5 other projects. Overall, Charité will receive a total of €4,185,023.75 in European funding.


Centrum für Muskuloskeletale Chirurgie (CMSC)

Berlin-Brandenburger Centrum für Regenerative Therapien (BCRT)

Julius Wolff Institut (JWI)


PD Dr. Tobias Winkler
Center for Muskuloskeletal Surgery (CMSC)
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel: +49 30 450 615 235

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