Natural biomaterials have been developed to replace joint cartilage tissue damaged from injury or arthritis. The materials are surgically implanted into the joint with the intent to restore the damaged cartilage and avoid joint replacement surgery.
Second-generation products from several companies are undergoing FDA clinical trials with launches in the U.S. not likely until 2009.
Where Are They Now
Biomaterials have been developed to replace joint cartilage damaged from injury or arthritis. The materials are surgically implanted into the joint with the intent to restore the damaged cartilage and avoid joint replacement surgery. Advancements are being made for technologies that employ autologous and synthetic materials used for cartilage substitutes in joint reconstruction. All replacement technologies must reproduce the delicate interplay between cellular, structural support and biomolecular elements that constitute normal cartilage.
New materials currently under development have been shown to be stronger and to possess the ability to better withstand pressure than materials used in previous generations of this technology, and research teams have even been successful at growing functional cartilage tissue in vitro from adult fat stem cells. In a 2016 research study, scientists were able to program stem cells to grow new cartilage shaped like the ball of a hip joint on a 3-D template. The 3D scaffold structure creates a high-performance fabric that can function similar to normal cartilage. The new cartilage would be seen as a replacement for young patients as the typical prosthetic joint lasts for less than 20 years. In late 2016, the product received approval from the FDA making it the first tissue-engineered autologous cell scaffold on the market.