Feb 182010

Sport is tough on the body,

and one of the major health risks from being active is permanent damage to cartilage around the joints. Humans are unable to regenerate cartilage once they are adults and often have to live with painful joints or osteoarthritis, but researchers at Northwestern University are the first to design a bio-active nanomaterial that promotes the growth of new cartilage in vivo and without the use of expensive growth factors. Good new sports fans…

The economic and social impact from damaged cartilage is unknown, but the economic impact of osteoarthritis is estimated to be almost $65 billion in the United States alone. Type II collagen is the major protein in articular cartilage, and comprises the smooth, white connective tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. Until now surgery to regenerate cartilage has involved a procedure called ‘microfracture’ but this tends to produce a cartilage having predominantly Type I collagen which is more like scar tissue.

In this new minimally-invasive procedure, a bio-active material of nanoscopic fibers stimulates stem cells present in bone marrow to produce cartilage containing type II collagen and repair the damaged joint. The gel is injected to the damaged area of joint where it forms a cohesive solid mimicking what cells normally see and effecting a molecular bind which is essential to the repair and regeneration.

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