Researchers have recently been able to grow new cartilage tissue from cows. This new breakthrough can prove essential for treating arthritis given the fact that more and more people are affected by it.
Arthritis develops when the cartilage gets damaged causing patients to feel stiffness and pain. On very rare occasions all the cartilage in the joint may be worn away causing the bones to grind against each other. Unfortunately there isn’t any actual treatment that can cure you of arthritis.
This is the reason why it is so important that the researchers at Pennsylvania State University in the US managed to grow cartilage tissue using cow joints.
The lead researcher, Dr. Ibrahim Ozbolat stated that what they are trying to accomplish with their research is to be able to replace worn tissue using artificially created tissue.
Patients who suffer from osteoarthritis endure a lot of pain and the treatment methods available aren’t that good. A metal knee cap replacement tends to wear out in time, thus a better option might be to replace the damaged cartilage. Due to the fact that cartilage doesn’t have any blood vessels it is very hard for it to heal itself.
The US research team managed to create replacement cartilage in a lab and they hope to use this new method to create cartilage in order to repair the affected knee joints. The cartilage cells were grown in thin tubes made of algae extract. After being removed from the tubes, the cartilage strands were used for 3D printing. By squeezing them through a special nozzle, the cartilage strands can be positioned in any pattern.
According to Dr. Ozbolat, the strands can be made at any desired length and the same thing goes for the patches. By printing the strand vertically first and then horizontally they are able to replicate the actual structure of the cartilage. The previous tests regarding cartilage growth involved incorporating cells in a support made of hydrogel.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ozbolat says that hydrogel doesn’t allow cells to grow normally due to the fact that it restricts communication between cells. At the same time, the degradation of the hydrogel causes toxic compounds that inhibit the growth of cells.
Dr. Ozbolat said that the next stage in their research will be to apply the process on human cartilage with the condition that the patients provide them with their own source material in order to avoid the rejection of tissue. This involves either existing cartilage or stern cells modified into cartilage cells.
The scientists have discovered how to create living human tissue using 3D printers. They believe that this method will offer doctors the possibility to create new organs for patients.