May 12, 2009
Tissue Scaffold Grows Replacement Joint Material

We need ways to grow replacements for worn out body parts. Then we can become as repairable as cars. While embryonic and pluripotent stem cells get the lion's share of press attention the scientists who labor away at solving tissue engineering problems are making contributions every bit as important. I expect tissue engineering problems to be the long pole in the tent for developing replacement body parts. With this thought in mind, some researchers at MIT have developed implantable materials that stimulate mesenchymal stem cells to produce bone and cartilage. Their technique works in goats.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--MIT engineers and colleagues have built a new tissue scaffold that can stimulate bone and cartilage growth when transplanted into the knees and other joints.

The scaffold could offer a potential new treatment for sports injuries and other cartilage damage, such as arthritis, says Lorna Gibson, the Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and co-leader of the research team with Professor William Bonfield of Cambridge University.

"If someone had a damaged region in the cartilage, you could remove the cartilage and the bone below it and put our scaffold in the hole," said Gibson. The researchers describe their scaffold in a recent series of articles in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

The technology has been licensed to Orthomimetics, a British company launched by one of Gibson's collaborators, Andrew Lynn of Cambridge University. The company recently started clinical trials in Europe.

The scaffold has two layers, one that mimics bone and one that mimics cartilage. When implanted into a joint, the scaffold can stimulate mesenchymal stem cells in the bone marrow to produce new bone and cartilage. The technology is currently limited to small defects, using scaffolds roughly 8 mm in diameter.

You can bet that goats who suffer joint injuries while scampering along steep hillsides and down rocky landscapes will be happy to hear that scientists have finally listened to their complaints.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 May 12 06:49 AM  Biotech Tissue Engineering


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