Cartilage damage in the knee has long been a problem doctors have struggled to resolve. But Melbourne researchers have found a technique to develop "grow your own" cartilage to treat cancers and replace damaged cartilage.
The human body's own cartilage is still the best material for lining knee joints. At St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, researchers are currently able to harvest cartilage from stem cells taken from tissue under the kneecap. Using 3D printing, the researchers created a 3D scaffold on which to grow cartilage cells, or chondrocytes, and according to Herald Sun, pea-sized spheres of cartilage were grown over 28 days.
This was the first time true cartilage had been grown, as opposed to "fibrocartilage" that does not work long-term, according to Lead researcher Associate Professor Damian Myers.
"It's very exciting work, and we've done the hard yards to show that what we have cultured is what we want for use in surgery for cartilage repair." he said. And "a normal cartilage repair might only last a couple of years," he added.
But this kind of tissue lacks its own blood supply, so it cannot repair itself when damaged through osteoarthritis, in accidents, or by cancer.
This bioengineering breakthrough still needs government support, around $180 million funding to proceed. In the near future it will have the potential to grow muscles, fat, bone and tendons using a patient's own stem cells.
But the cartilage repairs will be tested soon in pre-clinical models.
Source: Herald Sun
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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