In a project that will likely be watched by football players, runners and other athletes, researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School say they are developing an injectable gel that could speed repair of torn cartilage, a common sports injury, and may help injured athletes return to competition sooner. The technique uses the patient’s own cartilage-producing cells and has the potential to be more effective and less invasive than conventional cartilage repair techniques, which may include extensive surgery, they say.
When the liquid mixture is injected into areas where cartilage is torn, such as a knee joint, the material hardens into a gel upon exposure to ultraviolet light, leaving the transplanted cells in place so they can grow new cartilage where it is needed. The biodegradable material will be described in the Jan. 10 issue of Biomacromolecules, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Torn cartilage is an extremely painful, hard-to-heal injury, particularly since cartilage does not regenerate on its own. It most often occurs as a result of traumatic injuries, as during sports, and is most common in the knee joint, but the condition also can occur as a result of normal daily activity. Conventional treatment methods include rest, pain medication and, sometimes, invasive repair surgery. Patients undergoing surgery can face a slow, painful recovery.
Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
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