Using a cutting edge process to form new joints inside the body, a team of researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health has successfully regenerated rabbit joints. The experiment demonstrates that it’s possible to grow dissimilar tissues, like cartilage and bone, taken entirely from the host’s own cells.
The regenerative procedure is performed by stimulating previously irreparable organs or tissues to heal themselves. Three-dimensional structures made of biocompatible and biodegradable materials in the shape of the tissue, are infused with a protein to promote the joint’s growth.
The approach sidesteps several problems that are typically encountered in trying to transplant cells that are grown externally, such as tissue rejection.
Future work could replace arthritic joints in animals and ultimately in arthritis patients who need total joint replacement.