Osteoarthritis therapy approach: Artificial cartilage tissue created with a 3D printer

With cartilage from the 3D printer against arthrosis
In Germany alone, around five million people suffer from osteoarthritis. The pain that arises from the wear and tear of the joints is often difficult to bear. American scientists are currently working on a procedure that could help those affected in the future. The researchers have succeeded in producing cartilage using a 3D printer.

Artificial cartilage made
According to experts, osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease. The hands, knees and hips are usually affected. Around five million people are affected in Germany alone. Patients usually use painkillers to relieve the symptoms. Heating and cooling applications are also used. In addition, those affected by osteoarthritis help exercise and a diet that works without meat and with little cheese. Further treatment options could be available for patients in the future: US researchers have succeeded in producing artificial cartilage using a 3D printer.

Human "spare parts" from the 3D printer
A few years ago, digital 3D technology in the medical field was called the “science fiction method”, but nowadays it has become indispensable for some experts. As early as 2014, doctors in the Netherlands implanted an artificial skullcap from a 3D printer for a woman. In the meantime, muscles, cartilage and bones can be produced with the special equipment. Some of these have already been implanted in animals. But the “spare parts” could soon also be available for people.

Osteoarthritis patients suffer badly
Scientists from Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) (Pennsylvania) believe that human cartilage can be produced in a laboratory in a few years using a 3D printer. In a communication from the university, Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering and mechanics, explains the technical principle. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn tissue," said the expert. “Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for them. "

Not very resilient material
You can already grow cartilage in the Petri dish, but according to Ozbolat the result is not a very resilient material. The Pennsylvania scientists therefore rely on 3D printing. The team was able to show that this works - with cow cartilage. The researchers first used cartilage cells in tiny tubes, which then served as ink. The printing was done with a special nozzle, with which rows of cartilage strands can be arranged one after the other. The tissue then ended up in a nutrient solution to harden. "We can make the strands in any length that we want," said Ozbolat.

Further research with cow cartilage
The artificial cow cartilage is "very similar" to the model, but it is far from perfect. In humans, there is also the question of which starting material could be used to form the artificial cartilage. Cartilage samples taken or stem cells that differentiate into cartilage cells are conceivable. It is currently not possible to say when the technology is ready for clinical studies in humans. The team around Ozbolat initially wants to continue experimenting with cow cartilage. (ad)

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Video: Synthetic Cartilage Offers Relief From Osteoarthritis (December 2021).