Arthritis may be eased by 3D-print cartilage patches
Arthritis sufferers could be spared pain in the future after scientists were able to create cartilage patches for worn joints using a 3D printer.
Researchers used cow cartilage to grow cells in thin tubes. Once removed from the tubes, the cartilage strands were used for 3D bioprinting. After about half an hour, the “printed” cartilage patch stuck together well enough to be moved to a laboratory dish. Eventually the strands fully attached and fused together, the researchers wrote in the journal Scientific Reports.
Cartilage cannot repair itself so being able to print working tissue to the exact shape could allow damaged joints to be fixed. A transplant using cow cartilage would require drugs to suppress the immune system to avoid rejection, but it is hoped that the patches could be printed using a patient’s own cartilage cells, grown from stem cells.
Dr Ibrahim Ozbolat, who led the study at Pennsylvania State University in the US, said: “Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this.”
Cartilage is a good tissue for bioprinting because it consists of only one cell type and contains no blood vessels, he added.