Researchers are reporting they have successfully persuaded damaged joints to regrow cartilage and bone using a novel “cell homing” approach.
The experiments, conducted in rabbits, are a proof of concept of a method that may one day replace artificial joint transplants in humans, according to Jeremy Mao of Columbia University and colleagues.
The method uses a carefully constructed “bioscaffold,” impregnated with a natural substance called a growth factor. the growth factor in the scaffold causes precursor cells to migrate to the site and become cartilage and bone cells, Mao and colleagues wrote online in The Lancet.
In contrast with previous attempts to regrow tissue in joints, the researchers reported that they did not transplant any cells.
Animals treated with the method fully recovered weight-bearing and locomotion within a month, and the regenerated tissue was similar to naturally occurring cartilage and bone, the researchers said.