By combining magnetic fields and hydrogels, a team of researchers has produced artificial cartilage using a non-invasive method that could revolutionize regenerative medicine.
Researchers at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new possible way to repair complex body tissues that could significantly reduce recovery time for common injuries, including degeneration of cartilage in critical joints in the body.
Instead of synthetic or biological materials often used for these types of injuries, a team led by Robert Mauk, director of the McKay Laboratory and professor of orthopedic surgery and bioengineering, uses a combination of magnetic fluid and a three-dimensional hydrogel solution that can match specific shades. of injury to the body.
In this way, cells and other objects involved in an injury treatment can be rearranged to mimic naturally occurring tissues using a non-invasive, non-destructive process.
Researchers avoid adding magnetic particles to the damaged cells themselves, citing unwanted long-term effects, but instead rely on a non-invasive approach that “magnetizes”
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In these types of injuries, often referred to as ‘soft tissue damage’, the damage is more often than not catastrophic and is limited to one or two areas, usually forming a hole in the membrane.
General corrections for the breakdown of tissues such as cartilage work in the same way as road or home repairs, by filling the holes with some synthetic material. However, such materials tend to wear out over time because they are not organic and can cause unwanted side effects.
Furthermore, the more complex the initial structure, the more difficult it is to find a suitable alternative material to fill the gap, while performing almost the same function. As for cartilage in particular, it is more densely packed with cells on the surface, becoming much less cellular closer to the bone to which it is attached, which means that any synthetic substitute must be quite fine. designed.
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The team’s hydrogel solution (along with medicated items) is poured into the damaged area before being exposed to ultraviolet light, which locks it in place. The magnetic solution then slowly diffuses from the body over time.
The team was able to successfully recreate the articular cartilage found in critical joints in the human body such as the knees and elbows, a key source of injury among professional athletes. “By locking cells and other drug-delivering agents in place by magnetic modeling, we can launch tissues along the appropriate trajectory to produce better cartilage repair implants.said Mauk.
So far, the studies have been conducted in vitro, but they mark the latest step towards more advanced technologies for regenerative medicine, without the need for multiple, expensive and invasive operations.
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