Arthritis

Updated 03 February 2016

Knee cartilage regrown

Knee cartilage injuries can be effectively repaired by tissue engineering and osteoarthritis does not stop the regeneration process, concludes research led by scientists at the University of Bristol.

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The study, published in Tissue Engineering, demonstrates that engineered cartilage tissue can grow and mature when implanted into patients with a knee injury. The novel tissue engineering approach can lead to cartilage regeneration even in knees affected by osteoarthritis.

How the tissue was grown

The tissue engineering method used in this study involved isolating cells from healthy cartilage removed during surgery from 23 patients with an average age of 36 years. 

Read: How effective are steroid shots and ozone injections for knee arthritis?

After growing the cells in a laboratory culture for 14 days, the researchers seeded them onto scaffolds made of esterified hyaluronic acid, grew them for another 14 days on the scaffolds, and then implanted them into the injured knees of the study patients. 

Cartilage regeneration was seen in ten of 23 patients, including in some patients with pre-existing early osteoarthritis of the knee secondary to traumatic injury. Maturation of the implanted, tissue-engineered cartilage was evident as early as 11 months after implantation.

Read: Extra weight comes with knee pain

Antony Hollander, Professor of Rheumatology & Tissue Engineering at Bristol University who led the study, said: "This is the first time we have shown that tissue-engineered cartilage implanted into knees can mature within 12 months after implantation, even in joints showing symptoms of osteoarthritis.

"Left untreated, many cartilage injuries will progress to osteoarthritis and the need for eventual replacement of the whole joint. Future investigations need to be carried out but this approach will allow us to improve further the outcome of cartilage repair."

Read more: 

What is knee pain? 

Drug-free relief for knee pain 



 

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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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