Technique uses 3-D weaving to grow a living hip replacement
With a goal of treating worn, arthritic hips without extensive surgery to replace them, scientists have programmed stem cells to grow new cartilage on a 3-D template shaped like the ball of a hip joint. What’s more, using gene therapy, they have activated the new cartilage to release anti-inflammatory molecules to fend off a return of arthritis.
The technique, demonstrated in a collaborative effort between Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Cytex Therapeutics Inc. in Durham, N.C., is described July 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The discovery one day may provide an alternative to hip-replacement surgery, particularly in younger patients. Doctors are reluctant to perform such operations in patients under age 50 because prosthetic joints typically last for less than 20 years. A second joint-replacement surgery to remove a worn prosthetic can destroy bone and put patients at risk for infection.
“Replacing a failed prosthetic joint is a difficult surgery,” said Farshid Guilak, PhD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University. “We’ve developed a way to resurface an arthritic joint using a patient’s own stem cells to grow new cartilage, combined with gene therapy to release anti-inflammatory molecules to keep arthritis at bay. Our hope is to prevent, or at least delay, a standard metal and plastic prosthetic joint replacement.”
Joint inflammation (arthritis) is a common problem in medical practice and can be due to a variety of causes. Many types of inflammatory disorders affecting the joints belong to the diverse group of rheumatic diseases. The most common ones are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis which frequently affect the joints of the hands. These joint diseases are chronic in nature and cannot be cured yet.
However, an early diagnosis and thus early medical treatment tremendously improves long-term outcome. That is why experts working on the EC-funded project IACOBUS led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT are developing a finger scanner which in the future will allow arthritis of the hands to be diagnosed at a very early stage.
Read more: Detecting arthritis with light