A new therapy has been successfully tested in sheep that could provide the first effective and long-lasting repair of damaged menisci, an injury of the knee that affects millions of Americans each year and can lead to debilitating arthritis. A paper discussing the procedure appears this week in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine. The procedure involves the generation via 3D printer of an individualized scaffold of the meniscus which is then infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own.
At present, there are only limited options for treating a torn knee meniscus. Small tears can be repaired, but larger tears are surgically removed. While removal helps reduce pain and swelling, it leaves the knee without the natural shock absorber between the femur and tibia, which greatly increases the risk of arthritis. Efforts to replace a damaged meniscus, using tissue from elsewhere in the body or from cadavers, have a low success rate and carry significant risks. The new process represents an innovative approach to meniscus regeneration that, if successfully translated to humans, would potentially be applicable to the many patients who undergo meniscus removal each year.
Read more about this new advance, with links to further print and video information, here.