Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis in the world, is associated with suffering due to pain, productivity loss, decreased mobility and quality of life. Systemic therapies available for OA are mostly symptom modifying and have potential gastrointestinal, renal, hepatic, and cardiac side effects. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders recently published a study showing evidence of reparative effects demonstrated by homing of intra-articularly injected autologous bone marrow stem cells in damaged cartilage in an animal model of OA, along with clinical and radiographic benefit. This finding adds to the growing literature showing the potential benefit of intra-articular (IA) bone marrow stem cells. Other emerging potential IA therapies include IL-1 receptor antagonists, conditioned autologous serum, botulinum toxin, and bone morphogenetic protein-7. For each of these therapies, trial data in humans have been published, but more studies are needed to establish that they are safe and effective. Several additional promising new OA treatments are on the horizon, but challenges remain to finding safe and effective local and systemic therapies for OA.Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/12/259. © 2012 Singh; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.