Scientists are making huge strides in developing artificial cartilage that will be transformative for people with mobility issues.
In April scientists in Gothenburg bioprinted cartilage using stem cells harvested from patients undergoing knee surgery. While an American student also recently bioprinted a suitable replacement for the knees shock absorbers – called the menisci – which researchers said will make it “very easy for anyone to print something that is pretty close in its mechanical properties to cartilage”.
Now Biomedical researchers at the University of California, Davis, have developed a lab-grown tissue similar to articular cartilage, the smooth surface on joints which doesn’t grow back once it becomes damaged.
“The artificial cartilage that we engineer is fully biological with a structure akin to real cartilage. Most importantly, we believe that we have solved the complex problem of making tissues in the laboratory that are strong and stiff enough to take the extremely high loads encountered in joints such as the knee and hip,” said Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou, who led the UC Davis team.
With people living longer and 78 million predicted to have arthritis – in the US alone – by 2040, these breakthroughs will offer hope to millions.