New Research May Show Alternative To Joint Replacement


The occurrence of arthritis is on rise. More than 27 million American people are suffering from some kind of arthritis. Arthritis is a condition in which the cartilage (smooth surface) between the two bones wears away and the bones rub on each other, causing pain when the joint is used. The treatment option for end-stage arthritis is joint replacement, in which damaged cartilage is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. The predicted survivorship of the prosthesis in literature is 15-20 years. Severe arthritis in young people is a difficult situation to treat because of their young age and activity level and limited survivorship of prosthesis.

New research on stem cells has come out, allowing doctors to grow cartilage on a scaffold, shaped like the ball of a hip joint, and it is promising. This new research uses 3-D technology to make a mold in the precise shape of patient’s joint and grow the cartilage on it by covering it with patient’s own stem cells. Gene therapy was also added to the grown cartilage to release anti-inflammatory chemicals to modify the process of arthritis. It could be a good option for especially young patients suffering from bone and joint arthritis. The real challenge would be testing these findings in real human subjects and checking their mechanical strength under load, and long term survivorship.

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