New tissue scaffold regrows cartilage and bone

May 11, 2009 by Anne Trafton
MIT and Cambridge University scientists developed this tissue scaffold that could help repair knees and other joints. The top section, indicated by the green arrow, stimulates bone growth, while the lower half, marked by the orange arrow, stimulates cartilage growth. Photo courtesy / Lorna Gibson

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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 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.

The researchers demonstrated the scaffold’s effectiveness in a 16-week study involving goats. In that study, the scaffold successfully stimulated bone and cartilage growth after being implanted in the goats’ knees.

The project, a collaboration enabled by the Cambridge-MIT Institute, began when the team decided to build a scaffold for bone growth. They started with an existing method to produce a skin scaffold, made of collagen (from bovine tendon) and glycosaminoglycan, a long polysaccharide chain. To mimic the structure of bone, they developed a technique to mineralize the collagen scaffold by adding sources of and phosphate.

Once that was done, the team decided to try to create a two-layer scaffold to regenerate both bone and cartilage (known as an osteochondral scaffold). Their method produces two layers with a gradual transition between the bone and cartilage layers.

“We tried to design it so it’s similar to the transition in the body. That’s one of the unique things about it,” said Gibson.

There are currently a few different ways to treat cartilage injuries, including stimulating the bone marrow to release stem cells by drilling a hole through the cartilage into the bone; transplanting cartilage and the underlying bone from another, less highly loaded part of the joint; or removing cells from the body, stimulating them to grow in the lab and re-implanting them.

The new could offer a more effective, less expensive, easier and less painful substitute for those therapies, said Gibson.

MIT collaborators on the project are Professor Ioannis Yannas, of mechanical engineering and biological engineering; Myron Spector of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST); Biraja Kanungo, a graduate student in materials science and engineering; recent MIT PhD recipients Brendan Harley (now at the University of Illinois) and Scott Vickers; and Zachary Wissner-Gross, a graduate student in HST. Dr. Hu-Ping Hsu of Harvard Medical School also worked on the project.

Cambridge University researchers involved in the project are Professor William Bonfield, Andrew Lynn, now CEO of Orthomimetics, Dr. Neil Rushton, Serena Best and Ruth Cameron.

Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hibernating ground squirrels provide clues to new stroke treatments

November 17, 2017
In the fight against brain damage caused by stroke, researchers have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration: hibernating ground squirrels.

Age and gut bacteria contribute to multiple sclerosis disease progression

November 17, 2017
Researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School published a study suggesting that gut bacteria at young age can contribute to multiple sclerosis (MS) disease onset and progression.

Molecular guardian defends cells, organs against excess cholesterol

November 16, 2017
A team of researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health has illuminated a critical player in cholesterol metabolism that acts as a molecular guardian in cells to help maintain cholesterol levels within a safe, ...

Prototype ear plug sensor could improve monitoring of vital signs

November 16, 2017
Scientists have developed a sensor that fits in the ear, with the aim of monitoring the heart, brain and lungs functions for health and fitness.

Ancient enzyme could boost power of liquid biopsies to detect and profile cancers

November 16, 2017
Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University ...

FDA to crack down on risky stem cell offerings

November 16, 2017
U.S. health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

atphan
not rated yet May 11, 2009
Hopefully these new scaffolds can be leveraged effectively by doctors in the near future for people with cartilage injuries.

http://blog.benchside.com
Birger
not rated yet May 12, 2009
-Can this technology also be used for the elderly instead of joint replacement surgery? The current surgery is very invasive and elderly patients are prone to complications such as blood clots causing strokes.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.