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Growing Your Own Cartilage

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    Growing Your Own Cartilage

    Growing Your Own Cartilage
    Sun Jul 28, 7:05 PM ET

    SUNDAY, July 28 (HealthScoutNews) -- A new cartilage repair technique developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( news - web sites) (MIT) engineers could offer significant advantages over the current method used to treat people disabled by osteoarthritis, sports injuries and other accidents.

    In this new procedure, cartilage cells are grown in a special gel. Once the cartilage cells have "seeded" in the gel, the gel is placed in the damaged joint. The MIT researchers believe the cells will grow and integrate with the normal cartilage and the gel will slowly degrade.

    Their research appeared in a recent online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( news - web sites).

    The technique hasn't been tested on animals, but the MIT researchers say their engineered cartilage has mechanical and biochemical properties similar to natural cartilage.

    Only one procedure to repair defective or damaged cartilage has U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( news - web sites) approval. In the approved method, cartilage cells are taken from a person and made to multiply. These new cells are then implanted back into the area of damaged cartilage.

    But the MIT researchers say this is expensive -- about $30,000 -- and doesn't lead to the generation of true articular cartilage.

    They say their cartilage gel method could be implanted using a small external incision. That kind of surgery is less expensive and reduces patient recovery time.

    More information

    To learn more about cartilage disorders, visit the U.S. Government's MEDLINEplus health database.