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Nasal septum cells could help repair damaged knee cartilage






Millions of people are diagnosed with damage to knee joint cartilage every year, caused by injury or accident.


Joint or articular cartilage is the layer of smooth tissue at the ends of bones that facilitate a smooth movement, and protects and cushions the surfaces of the joint where the bones meet.


As this tissue has no blood supply, if it gets damaged it cannot regenerate. Eventually, as the cartilage wears away, the bones become exposed and inflamed from rubbing against each other, leading to painful joint conditions like osteoarthritis.


There are different medical techniques – such as micro surgery – that can prevent or delay the onset of cartilage degeneration following injury or accident, but they do not regenerate healthy cartilage to protect the joints.


There have also been attempts to use cartilage cells from the patients’ own joints to make new cartilage in the joint, but these have not been very successful.


One of the unique features of the new study is that Prof. Martin (Professor of tissue engineering at the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel in Switzerland), and colleagues used chondrocytes harvested from a site far away from the damaged joint – from the patients’ nasal septum. These cells have a unique ability to grow new cartilage tissue.


Scans done after two years showed that new tissue of similar composition to cartilage had grown at the affected sites.


This promising tests will need more time and investigation on a larger population to became a standard procedure.



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