Regrow Your Cartilage
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It's a good thing we're young at heart because not much else is young, especially our joints! No kidding. Don't try to squat or you won't get back up. So, imagine the joints of athletes. Their old injuries usually come back as osteoarthritis or OA. When it becomes severe, joint replacement is the only option but there are now technologies that can regrow the cartilage lost in OA.

While broken bones can heal, damaged cartilage doesn't because it lacks blood vessels.

So to encourage regeneration, surgeons can make small cuts in the bone beneath the injured cartilage. There are also cartilage replacement surgeries where a plug of healthy cartilage and underlying bone are taken from a non-weight bearing part of the knee and placed in the damaged area.

A new approach harvests cartilage cells from the patient's knee and grows them in the lab. Once ready, a cell infused membrane is implanted in the knee and new cartilage grows over time. Vericell Corporation developed an FDA approved approach called MACI. There are a few downsides. It's expensive and involves two surgeries. It's also not for people with full blown OA since some cartilage at the knee is needed for the implant to heal properly.

Full recovery takes a year and in the first six weeks, the patient must lie flat with a machine that gently and continuously moves the knee to avoid scar tissue. But the upside is that patients may be able to avoid knee replacements and maybe even allow athletes to resume their favorite sport.

For more information…

Introducing MACI Cartilage Repair Using Your Own Cells
MACI uses your own cells to create durable repair tissue for knee cartilage damage and can reduce pain, improve function, and provide lasting results...

Matrix-Applied Characterized Autologous Cultured Chondrocytes Versus Microfracture: Five-Year Follow-up of a Prospective Randomized Trial
Matrix-based cell therapy improves surgical handling, increases patient comfort, and allows for expanded indications with better reliability within the knee joint. Five-year efficacy and safety of autologous cultured chondrocytes on porcine collagen membrane (MACI) versus microfracture for treating cartilage defects have not yet been reported from any randomized controlled clinical trial...

FDA Approves MACI for the Treatment of Symptomatic Cartilage Defects of the Knee in Adults
Vericel Corporation, a leading developer of expanded autologous cell therapies for the treatment of patients with serious diseases and conditions, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved MACI (autologous cultured chondrocytes on porcine collagen membrane) for the repair of symptomatic single or multiple full-thickness cartilage defects of the knee with or without bone involvement in adults...