26 August 2013

How to create artificial cartilage

Due to a lack of blood vessels and other characteristics, cartilage heals very slowly. One way to accelerate natural cartilage repair and growth is to use tissue engineering, or the artificially-stimulated production of functional replacement tissue. The image shows a three-dimensionally woven biomaterial scaffold. The scaffold consists of multiple layers of resorbable fiber bundles that have been woven into a porous structure. The scaffold is then seeded with cells that grow to become new tissue as the fibers are resorbed. The fibers provide stiffness and strength in a manner that mimics native collagenous tissues such as cartilage. 
Text and image from FASEB, via Fresh Photons.


  1. There is no need for this.

    True story:

    A Dr Crain in the St Louis suburbs is regrowing knee cartilage.

    I have a lady friend, aged then 63, who two years ago got treated with stem cells by Dr Crain. Both her knees had had ACL and/or MCL damage, and the cartilage in one knee had been removed - without her permission/consent - years before. In that knee she was walking bone on bone in that knee, if you can imagine how much that hurts and hampers one.

    Crain took stem cells from her bone marrow one week, and then using ultrasound to steer by, carefully injected the stem cells into one of her knees. She said Dr Crain has a method for using the ultrasound that enables him to very precisely locate the site of the injection.

    Within a week she was walking well, and in a month or so it had grown all new cartilage, plus repaired the ligaments.

    The other knee was treated two weeks later, if I recall, and it, too, re-grew and repaired the damage to the knee.

    Inside of a very few weeks her knees were as good as they were in her 20s.

    This is not a lie nor mis-presented. I was on the phone with her often during that stretch, and she was doing fabulously.

    Dr Crain's treatments are classified as "Experimental" by the insurance companies, so patients have to pay out of pocket. That is the bad news.

    The good news is that as of 2011 the cost per treatment (one knee) was only $1900.

    The even better news is that Dr Crain can use some of the excess stem cells elsewhere to help other problems - though there is a limit to how much can be treated at one time.

    The $1900 is to be compared with the going price of a knee replacement, which is in the range of $45,000-$60,000, with the copay being about 20% or $3,000, whichever is greater. Hence, even without insurance the stem cell treatment is less expensive for the patient. The patient comes out about $1000 to the good - per knee.

    But the real blessing is that it is a REAL KNEE, back to the way nature intended it. And without having to suffer the major and its very real risks. And the rehab is basically non-existent - just walking. The stem cell treatment includes only the harvesting of the stem cells and then several days later injecting them where needed.

    The prognosis for this type of stem cell treatment? If the powers that be don't block its use, it portends to offer a lot of other future repairs on the human body. How high is the ceiling on it? Who knows? The future may have us being healed of just about any damage.

    It is POSSIBLE that this is all connected to the way starfish and some newts are able to re-grow any portion of their limbs that are severed. This part is pure speculation on my part, but I don't conjecture lightly on this. The amazing thing is that the stem cells were able to know what type of cells to become AND where the different type went, at the micro level.

    The possibilities are enormous.

  2. Dammit! I misspelled the Dr's name. It is CRANE, not CRAIN.


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