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Navigating the Challenges Facing an Aging Global Population: How CytoMed Seeks to Help Boost Cartilage Regeneration

The global population is rapidly aging. According to the World Population Prospects 2022 published by the United Nations, there were 771 million people aged 65 or older globally as of 2022, which accounted for roughly 10% of the total human population. These numbers are only expected to increase in the future. The UN estimates the population of people aged 65 or older will reach 16% of the world’s population in 2050 and eventually hit 24% by 2100. This will continue to put a greater importance on developing treatments and solutions to age-related health issues. One such treatment will be focusing on repairing depleted cartilage.

Cartilage regeneration is an evolving field within regenerative medicine and orthopedics, aiming to restore damaged or lost cartilage, a crucial component in the body’s joints. Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue, a rubber-like padding that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints and is a structural component of the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes, the intervertebral discs, and many other body components. Unlike other types of tissue, cartilage does not have a direct blood supply, which makes its repair or regeneration a complex and challenging process.

CytoMed Therapeutics Limited (NASDAQ: GDTC) (“CytoMed” or “the Company”), is the leading company that is diligently working on a potential treatment using umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs) to help regenerate cartilage and aims to be the first in Singapore to conduct such trial.

CytoMed Logo; Source: CytoMed
CytoMed Logo; Source: CytoMed

What is Cartilage Regeneration?

Cartilage regeneration involves repairing or regrowing cartilage tissues that have been damaged or degraded due to disease, aging, or injury. Although the regeneration process occurs naturally, the extent of regeneration is limited and is often insufficient to fully restore the cartilage’s function, especially in cases of severe damage. Advances in science and medicine have led to the development of various strategies to enhance cartilage regeneration, including stem cell therapy, scaffolding techniques, and gene therapy, amongst others. These methods aim to mimic natural growth factors and the surrounding environment required for cartilage, regeneration, providing new therapeutic approaches for effective treatments.

Who is Impacted by Cartilage Loss?

Cartilage loss primarily affects individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that leads to the breakdown of cartilage and bone. It is a leading cause of disability amongst the older population, but can also affect younger individuals, particularly athletes or those who have experienced joint injuries. Additionally, conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, certain metabolic disorders, and genetic predispositions can also contribute to cartilage degradation, impacting individuals across different ages.

Cartilage Loss Diagram; Source: Dr. Gordon Slater
Cartilage Loss Diagram; Source: Dr. Gordon Slater

The Importance of Cartilage Regeneration

Restoring damaged cartilage is important as it helps alleviate pain and improve joint functions, significantly enhancing the quality of life for individuals suffering from joint diseases and allowing them to maintain an active lifestyle, which is vital for overall health, well-being, and longevity. Effective cartilage regeneration can potentially delay or prevent the need for joint replacement surgery, a major procedure with significant risks and a lengthy recovery time.

The Market Outlook for Cartilage Regeneration

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the 2019 global prevalence of osteoarthritis was 365 million and this number is expected to grow significantly as the global population ages. The global cartilage regeneration market had an estimated revenue of $1.3 billion in 2023 and is estimated to reach $2.8 billion by 2028, which represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.2% between 2023 and 2028. In the Asia Pacific region, it is estimated to see an above-average growth for cartilage regeneration with a CAGR of 20.1% between 2023 and 2028. This projection comes as health officials continue to raise concerns regarding aging populations within the region in countries such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China.

Source: MarketsandMarkets
Source: MarketsandMarkets

CytoMed Forms Research Collaboration with Singapore’s Sengkang General Hospital to Study Stem Cell-Based Cartilage Repair

CytoMed is a Singapore biopharmaceutical company that focuses on utilizing its licensed proprietary technologies to develop novel allogenic cell-based immunotherapies for treating a variety of cancers and age-related diseases.

In March 2024, CytoMed announced that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with Sengkang General Hospital Pte Ltd., a public hospital in Singapore and a member of the SingHealth Group. The two entities aim to establish a proof-of-concept for the use of an injectable cartilage regeneration therapy developed from donor-sourced umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells. The injectable therapy will undergo a proposed Phase I clinical trial, which is planned to take place in Singapore and is expected to be completed within two years.

“The unique advantages of UC-MSCs include their abundant supply, compared to cord blood-derived MSCs or adult stem cell sources like bone marrow-derived MSCs. Freshly harvested UC-MSCs are believed to possess higher proliferation capacity and greater differentiation potential. Additionally, UC-MSCs have been shown to exhibit lower immunogenicity and are less likely to be rejected by the recipient’s immune system, which opens the possibility for allogeneic (donor-to-recipient) transplantation. Therefore, UC-MSC would serve as an ideal source of regenerative cells for treating osteoarthritis of the knee. This hypothesis has also been supported by many international published clinical papers. We are excited to embark on this collaboration, which will be the first UC-MSC clinical trial to be conducted in Singapore,” added Dr Tan Wee Kiat, co-CEO and Chief Operating Officer of CytoMed.


The projected increase in the global aging population underscores an urgent need for newer and better innovative methods to treat age-related health conditions, including cartilage degeneration. With the aging population worldwide set to increase significantly, the demand for better and more effective cartilage regeneration therapies makes research and development in this field more vital than ever to provide alternatives to conventional joint-replacement surgery.

Companies like CytoMed are at the forefront of regenerative medicine by exploring novel treatments such as utilizing UC-MSCs to foster cartilage regeneration. This effort not only promises to alleviate the pain and improve the quality of life for millions suffering from joint diseases but also heralds a significant shift towards more sustainable, long-term solutions to the challenges posed by an aging global population.

In conclusion, the ongoing collaboration between CytoMed and Sengkang General Hospital exemplifies the innovative approaches undertaken to advance the field of regenerative medicine. As the market outlook for cartilage regeneration brightens, reflecting a robust compound annual growth rate, the potential to transform patient care and address the pressing needs of the aging demographic becomes increasingly tangible. This evolving landscape of regenerative medicine, underscored by the promising development of novel therapeutics and the anticipated growth in demand, points towards a future where age-related joint issues can be addressed more effectively, ensuring a higher quality of life for the aging population, contributing to the broader goal of healthy aging.


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