New Arthritis Treatment Brings Hope For Million Sufferers

When cartilage becomes damaged, it leads to the painful condition – leaving patients immobile and in pain.In extreme cases, nearly all cartilage in a joint can be worn away – causing a painful grinding together of bones.There is currently no cure.But now researchers at Pennsylvania State University in the US have successfully grown cartilage tissue in the lab from cow joints.They hope they could create a arthritis treatment by growing human cartilage in a same way, effectively churning out patches for worn joints.Their research was published in journal Scientific Reports.Lead scientist Dr Ibrahim Ozbolat said: “Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches.“Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot.

We need a new alternative arthritis treatment for this.”Because replacement metal knee joints wear out eventually, a better solution would be to replace damaged cartilage.Cartilage is particularly susceptible to wear as it does not have any blood vessels, so it has difficulty repairing itself.The experiments in the US involved engineering replacement cartilage in the lab.Researchers successfully produced tissue similar to tissue normally present in humans.They hope that in the future these results may help create cartilage for repairing knee joints ravaged by arthritis.The US researchers grew cartilage cells in thin tubes three to five hundredths of an inch in diameter made from an algae extract.Once removed from the tubes, the cartilage strands were used for 3D printing.Squeezed through a specially designed nozzle, the strands can be laid down in rows in any desired pattern.

After about half an hour, the “printed” cartilage patch stuck together well enough to be moved to a lab dish.Eventually the strands fully attached and fused together.Dr Ozbolat said: “We can manufacture the strands in any length we want.”Because there is no scaffolding, the process of printing the cartilage is scalable, so the patches can be made bigger as well.“We can mimic real articular cartilage by printing strands vertically and then horizontally to mimic the natural architecture.”Previous attempts at growing cartilage have embedded cells in a “scaffold” of hydrogel, a jelly-like plastic material.


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