Researchers at the University and University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland report they have taken cartilage cells from nasal septums and successfully generated new cartilage that was used to repair damaged knees in patients. According to the study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers took small biopsies from the nasal septums of 7 of 25 patients who participated in the study and isolated the cultures. After the cultures multiplied they were appllied to a scaffold that allowed the researchers to engineer a 30 by 40 millimeter cartilage graft that was then used to replace damaged cartilage tissue in knees of the patients. The patients in the study were all under the age of 55.
“The findings from the basic research and the preclinical studies on the properties of nasal cartilage cells and the resulting engineered transplants have opened up the possibility to investigate an innovative clinical treatment of cartilage damage,” Professor Ivan Martin, a lead researcher in the study, said in a statement.
The nasal cartilage cells’ ability to self-renew and adapt to the joint environment–in this case the knee joint–is associated with the expression of so-called HOX genes, the researchers said. In a previous study that included the help of plastic surgeons, the researchers were able to use the same method to successfully reconstruct nasal wings affected by tumors.
There are more than 600,000 knee replacements annually in the U.S. alone, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And the annual volume of Medicare-covered knee replacement surgeries grew by 162% from 1991 to 2010, according to a recent study.
REFERENCE: Fierce Medical Devices; 02 SEP 2014; Joseph Keenan