Hip Joint Damage: Don’t Replace, Resurface!

In a collaborative effort involving Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and Cytex Therapeutics, Inc., Durham, North Carolina, scientists have programmed stem cells to grow new cartilage on a 3D template in the shape of the ball of a hip joint. They have also demonstrated the use of gene therapy to induce the new cartilage to prevent new arthritis by releasing anti-inflammatory molecules. In the future, these advances may form the basis of a new nonsurgical alternative to hip joint damage, particularly for younger patients for whom the 20-year lifespan of prosthetic replacements is a significant concern. Farshid Guilak, PhD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University, commented, “We’ve developed a way to resurface an arthritic joint using a patient’s own stem cells to grow new cartilage, combined with gene therapy to release anti-inflammatory molecules to keep arthritis at bay. Our hope is to prevent, or at least delay, a standard metal and plastic prosthetic joint replacement.” The technique is detailed in a paper appearing this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new treatment employs a 3D biodegradable synthetic scaffold precisely shaped to the patient’s joint. This is covered with cartilage made from the patient’s stem cells taken from fat beneath the skin. A gene is inserted into the new cartilage that, when activated, prompts the release of anti-inflammatory molecules and forestalls the reoccurrence of arthritis in the joint. The treated scaffold is then implanted into the damaged joint. Currently, younger patients with osteoarthritis of the hip have limited treatment options, as they are inappropriate candidates for joint replacement surgery. Bradley Estes, PhD, vice president of research and development at Cytex, noted, “We envision in the future that this population of younger patients may be ideal candidates for this type of biological joint replacement.”

Read more about arthritis, here.

Read more about the new technique here.

The article abstract may be read here.

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