Scientists have plucked cartilage cells from the noses of 10 patients with knee injuries and used them to produce cartilage transplants to repair the damage. Each of the patients had damage to their articular cartilage, which pads the knee. The cartilage doesn’t heal well on its own because it doesn’t have its own blood supply. So Switzerland-based scientists turned to cartilage cells in the nasal septum, which are particularly adept at forming new tissue.
They harvested a small biopsy of those cells, cultured them in growth factors, and then seeded them onto collagen membranes to form an implantable graft. Those grafts were cut into the exact shape to fit a patient’s knee and then implanted. Two years out, MRI scans showed the knees had new tissue that was similar in composition to naturally grown cartilage. And nine of the recipients reported less pain and better use of their knees after surgery. The caveat: The procedure needs to be tested in larger, randomized trials and compared to conventional treatments. Read about the work in the Lancet.