Penn State University scientists have developed a new way to re-grow cartilage
As runners well know, cartilage, the shock absorber within the joint, wears down over time and when an injury occurs, it is unable to heal itself. Traumatic injury can cause small tears on the cartilage surface that never heal, and get worse with time. Trauma and arthritis are the primary culprits for sidelining jogging enthusiasts and weekend warriors alike.
When aspirin and rest no longer do the trick, it may be time for surgery. And while bone-grafting procedures have been used for decades, cartilage repair with new therapies is rapidly expanding. Minimally invasive cartilage repair and regeneration involves harvesting healthy cartilage from one site and transplanting the tissue to the defective area. Another approach involves growing new cartilage cells in a lab and re-injecting the cells to replace worn cartilage.
A group of Penn scientists working across engineering and medicine have developed a novel way to allow patients to re-grow cartilage in their own bodies, using their own cells, directly in the site that has been damaged through injury or disease.
Penn Engineering Associate Professor Jason Burdick says the breakthrough represents a new way of thinking about tissue regeneration. The work could lead to new, more effective therapies that offer longer-lasting results.
Additionally, because the cells are taken directly from the patient, they don’t cause an immune response, unlike current grafting and repair technologies, so there is no risk the body will reject the implanted cells.