Dual matrix scaffold provides better support

Date: July 10, 2017

Trials of a new tissue engineering scaffold to repair osteochondral defects have shown it enables better regrowth of both bone and cartilage, compared to commercially available scaffolds.

Using a combination of titanium and polymer matrix, the new scaffold mimics the structure of the cartilage and underlying bone. Results from the first large animal trial of the technology showed that, in just three months, the titanium matrix of the scaffold had supported new bone growth with strong mechanical properties. This ensured good support for the overlying cartilage layer, leading to improved cartilage regrowth into the polymer matrix.

The aim is that the scaffold could provide a one-step surgical treatment for large osteochondral defects, enabling a faster and cheaper alternative to joint replacement to improve the quality of life for a larger number of patients with osteoarthritis.

The technology, developed by a team at University College London (UCL), with proof-of-concept funding from the IKC and Arthritis UK, has already had its moment of fame on the Channel 4 TV series The Supervet. Star of the show, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, used it to successfully treat a large osteochondral defect in the shoulder of a seven-month-old Italian Spinone puppy, with scans showing good cartilage regrowth perfectly matching the curvature of the joint.

Funding from Innovate UK is now enabling the UCL team, together with Oxford-based bioengineering company MEStar Ltd and colleagues in China, to prepare the technology for clinical trials and commercialisation, including creating GMP protocols for its manufacture.

“Our scaffold has the strength needed to bear the physical load of the joints and its patented biomedical structure encourages consistent cartilage fill. This means it has the necessary properties to meet the growing need for clinical interventions in osteoarthritis.” Dr Chaozong Liu, University College London

“Changes in articular cartilage as we age can lead to osteoarthritis, now one of the most common causes of pain and disability in middle-aged and elderly people. This kind of scaffold would enable surgeons to intervene earlier, to prevent development and progression of the condition.” Professor Gordon Blunn, University College London

“The holy grail of regenerative medicine is the perfect marriage of biomechanics and biology: cells meeting man-made structures so that they’re custom-specific for each individual patient. That will change medicine forever.” Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, (on the Supervet programme featuring the scaffold).

Further information on the Arthritis Research UK Translational medical technologies development fund can be found on our funding call pages (opens in a new tab).

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