New approach to fixing damaged cartilage

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New approach to fixing damaged cartilage

A new advancement has been made in the field of arthritis with the invention of 3D printing technology which has laid the groundwork to repairing cartilage damaged by arthritis and other injuries. Researchers are now reporting that they have found a way to produce cartilage tissue by 3-D bioprinting an ink containing human cells and they have successfully tested it in an in vivo mouse model. The development could one day lead to precisely printed implants to heal damaged noses, ears and knees.

To create a new bioink, researchers team at Wallenberg Wood Science Center in Sweden, mixed polysaccharides from brown algae and tiny cellulose fibrils from wood or made by bacteria, as well as human chondrocytes, which are cells that build up cartilage. Using this mixture, the researchers were able to print living cells in a specific shape that maintained its form even after printing.

The researchers presented these findings at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) revealed that printed cells also produced cartilage in a laboratory setting. When these printed tissue samples were implanted in mice. The cells survived and produced cartilage. Then, to boost the number of cells, which is another hurdle in tissue engineering, the researchers mixed the chondrocytes with human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. Preliminary data from in vivo testing over 60 days show the combination does indeed encourage chondrocyte and cartilage production.

Based on these promising results, further preclinical work needs to be done before moving on to human trials. The team is consulting with a plastic surgeon to refine its research and is also working with a cosmetic company to develop 3D bioprinted human skin.

According to Dr Paul Gatenholm, who is leading a team at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, "Our team's interest is in working with plastic surgeons to create cartilage to repair damage from injuries or cancer. "We work with the ear and the nose, which are parts of the body that surgeons today have a hard time repairing. But hopefully, they'll one day be able to fix them with a 3D printer and a bioink made out of a patient's own cells."

Arthritis Research UK

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