BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Scientists have made progress in developing a STEM cartilage which could eliminate the necessity for hip replacement surgery in young adults with arthritis. The cartilage has not been tested in humans, so experts haven’t got a clue about side effects or potential cost.
The cartilage grown from stem cells is promising because it includes these cells, along with the synthetic part. The latter disappears in time and leaves only human tissue in place. The implant is uniquely designed to avoid inflammation. It can replace dead tissue and fights of swelling, which has the potential to dissolve the new tissue.
The implant is targeted towards patients with arthritis, who are too young to be suited candidates for hip replacement surgery. That’s because they will live longer than the hip replacement can last in their bodies.
There is currently a missing link in treatment options for arthritis, in young, active patients who are younger than 65 years. When a patient gets the arthritis diagnosis early, typical treatments are physical therapy, analgesics, and anti-inflammatory medication.
But these don’t address the big problem – arthritis, leaving the patient with inadequate treatment, until the time comes for a total replacement.
Experts have long been trying to find a way of engineering an artificial cartilage that could be used to replace joints. In the recent study, researchers reported lab tests of an artificial cartilage that could replace the surface of the hip joint.
Scientists used 3-D printing technology to create the new cartilage. It „mimics natural cartilage”, one of the researchers said. It’s made of a mix of plastic material and stem cells from the patient, which will grow into cartilage. It is also designed to reduce swelling.
So far, the study has shown that the artificial cartilage is starting to replace the deteriorated cartilage. The plan is to ultimately create a cartilage that lasts between 10 to 15 years and can be used on other joints too.
Jerry Hu, director of the Clinical Translational Program at the University of California, points out that the artificial cartilage looks promising, and it could be used for future knee, hip, finger or shoulder replacement because all these body parts have cartilage too.
The next phase will be testing on animals. If all goes well, the cartilage will be tested in humans within the next five years.
Image Source – Cloudfront