It was an impossible dream just a few years ago for the millions of people who suffer from osteoarthritis: to regenerate cartilage and strengthen the underlying bone. Today, it is possible thanks to theThis is the work of a French Inserm team that has developed an innovative implant composed of stem cells and growth factors.
Dn a study published in Trends BiotechnologyThe Strasbourg researchers of the Inserm team "Osteoarticular and dental regenerative nanomedicine" show that by combining stem cells and growth factors, it is possible to repair cartilage as well as damaged bone.
Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in the world. It leads to the destruction of cartilage and can spread throughout the joint, including the bone and synovial tissue that lubricates and nourishes the cartilage. Cartilage ensures the mobility of joints by allowing sliding between two bones. As we age, this mat of cells, called chondrocytes, degrades. Metabolic pathologies or excess weight also promote this phenomenon. Unfortunately, cartilage is not able to repair itself spontaneously. It must be helped to do so.
Today's treatments are mostly symptomatic. Only the chondrocyte graft in the knee, i.e. the injection in the knee of its own chondrocytes taken from the bone, makes it possible to rebuild the cartilage. However, this technique is only suitable for young patients under the age of 50 with local cartilage damage. However, people suffering from osteoarthritis have joints that are completely attacked by the disease, particularly the subchondral bone located under the cartilage. For these patients, a prosthesis is often the last option, although its effectiveness is limited to 15 years on average.
Dr. Nadia Benkirane-Jessel and her team specializing in regenerative nanomedicine then imagined a new generation of 3D implants. The implant has two compartments. The first, which is designed to regenerate bone, is an extremely thin woven membrane containing microscopic reservoirs (nanoreservoirs) filled with growth factors, the molecules that will induce the multiplication of bone cells.
The second, which must regenerate cartilage, is a layer of water-swollen molecules (hydrogel) containing stem cells taken from the patient's bone marrow. These will either develop into bone cells or cartilage cells.
" The technology we have developed involves membranes with nanoreservoires, equivalent to small vesicles, containing growth factors that will enable bone regeneration.described on the specialized site Why Dr. Nadia Benkirane-Jessel. On this first patch, we then deposit a hydrogel with stem cells derived from the patient's bone marrow, which will regenerate the cartilage. ".
The aim of this patch made up of two membranes, which is already patented, is therefore to reconstruct the bone-cartilage unit simultaneously. A dual therapeutic action that should slow the progression of the disease while repairing the cartilage to avoid the ablation of the joint and the installation of a prosthesis, underlines the person in charge of the work.
Preliminary results in animals seem convincing. « We have shown in sheep and small animals that our technique is safe and feasible. We now hope to test its effectiveness in humans by 2020. "says Dr. Nadia Benkirane-Jessel.
For the time being, the researchers have submitted their application to set up a European regenerative medicine project and are awaiting funding. If the trials are conclusive, this technology would make it possible to reconstruct joints that have been damaged over the years or by joint injuries in a durable and robust way.