One common cause of osteoarthritis occurs when an area of the meniscus is damaged and must be removed during surgery. When damaged, the meniscus typically does not heal on its own, and the damaged portion is removed and not replaced. While current surgical techniques solve the short-term problem, osteoarthritis inevitably develops several years later.
James Cook, MU professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, developed a process that might encourage the meniscus to repair itself, while minimizing progression of osteoarthritis for the patient.
"Other studies have shown the amount of arthritis a person experiences is related to the amount of meniscus you have left in your knee,” Cook said. "In our animal studies, we have been able to grow back 90 percent of the meniscus on average. Using tissue engineering and biological stimulation through the implantation of a scaffold derived from pig intestines, we show the tissue where it needs to grow. With approval from the federal government, we will now be able to begin using this in humans in the first phase of clinical trials,” Cook explains.
While the new process has been used in more than 300 dogs, about 20 human patients will receive the procedure in the trials, which will be completed by surgeons in Memphis and Indianapolis.
However, the surgery is not limited to new injuries. Cook believes in select cases the procedure might help older adults who experienced damaged knees years before. In addition, there have been no major side effects reported from implantation of the scaffold. Currently, the implants are being used in rotator cuff injuries, skin grafts and bladder reconstruction in humans.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Missouri-Columbia