Hip Implants from Cartilage Grown from Stem Cells

A new study has found a way to program stem cells in order to grow new cartilage on a 3-D template of the hip joint ball. This cartilage releases anti-inflammatory molecules that assist in fending off new arthritis occurrences. The new technology could supply an alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery and could remove the need for surgery for joint replacement surgery in some people.

The team has developed a means to resurface an arthritic joint with a person’s very own stem cells to grow new cartilage. When combined with gene therapy it can release molecules that are anti-inflammatory in an effort to stave off arthritis. Hopefully this could delay or prevent the normal plastic or metal prosthetic joint replacement.

The cartilage is made with the person’s own stem cells which are taken from fat found beneath the skin. A 3-D biodegradable synthetic scaffold is then molded into the shape of the joint of the patient. It is then covered with the cartilage and implanted onto the arthritic joint surface. The process helps to alleviate pain from arthritis and might delay or remove the necessity for hip replacement surgery.

Utilizing gene therapy, the developers were able to place anti-inflammatory molecules in the hip to fend off arthritis reoccurrence. As inflammatory molecules rise, cartilage in joints can be destroyed leading to an increase in pain, which this gene therapy can help deter.

If a patient has inflammation, they can be given a simple drug activating the gene that has been implanted, to decrease the joint inflammation. The drug can be stopped at any moment, which will turn off the gene.

The scaffold is made utilizing a weave of about 600 biodegradable fiber bundles. The weaving pattern gives the scaffold the properties and structure that can be found in normal cartilage. The implants have the ability to load up to 10 times a person’s body weight.

Currently, customized implants are being tested in lab animals using the stem cell based tissue. If they are successful, we could see some devices ready for human testing in 3 to 5 years.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Anatomically shaped tissue-engineered cartilage with tunable and inducible anticytokine delivery for biological joint resurfacing