A textile-based implant that contains cartilage derived from stem cells successfully reduced pain and restored hip joint function in a study of dogs with osteoarthritis.
The study could be a significant first step toward preventative, less invasive joint resurfacing in dogs and humans, the authors say in Science Advances
What is cartilage?
In humans – and in dogs – a millimetre-thick layer of cartilage can mean the difference between an active lifestyle or painful osteoarthritis. That tiny cap of cartilage protects joint surfaces and allows the bones to glide smoothly over one another. Age or joint injury can cause the cartilage to degrade, leading to osteoarthritis and progressive joint pain.
“One of the holy grails of orthopaedics is to replace cartilage, but there hasn’t been an effective way to do it,” says Prof Duncan Lascelles one of the research authors.
What is the new arthritis treatment?
The new implant is a part textile, part 3D-printed structure, which can be seeded with an individual’s own stem cells. It dissolves over time so that, ultimately, joint function is transferred back to the patient’s own tissues during the healing process.
The implant has been tested in dogs, a critical step in translating this technology into use for both canine and human patients.
“What we saw is that with the implant these dogs were doing as well as or better than they would be after a total joint replacement,” the authors highlight. “We were thrilled that the implant was so effective at restoring the activity levels of the animals. After all, this is why patients go see their physicians – they want to be able to play tennis, play with their kids, and, in general, re-engage in a pain-free active lifestyle that had been taken away by arthritis.”
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