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Disease & Conditions >>> Arthritis Articles & News


A Cure For Arthritis?

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
ARTHRITIS MENISCUS JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY MISSOURI KNEE REPLACEMENT

Following most of 1 million knee surgeries this year, patients will experience painful arthritis as they age. However, a process developed by a researcher could help repair damaged knees while minimizing this painful side effect.

Newswise — Surgeons will operate on more than 1 million knees in 2004. In most of those cases, patients will experience painful arthritis as they age. However, a process developed by a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher could help repair damaged knees while minimizing this painful side effect. The procedure will be tested in human clinical trials this summer if FDA approval is granted.

One common cause of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, occurs when an area of knee cartilage is damaged and must be removed during surgery. The cartilage, known as the meniscus, is a shock absorber in the knee.

When torn or damaged, the meniscus typically does not heal on its own, and the damaged portion is removed and not replaced. While current surgical techniques solve the short-term problem, osteoarthritis inevitably develops several years later. James Cook, an MU professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, has performed groundbreaking research for DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. to help develop a process that successfully encourages the meniscus to repair itself, while minimizing progression of osteoarthritis for the patient.

“Other studies have shown the amount of arthritis a person experiences is related to the amount of meniscus you have left in your knee,” Cook said. “In our animal studies, we have been able to grow back 90 percent of the meniscus on average. Using tissue engineering and biological stimulation through the implantation of a scaffold derived from pig intestines, we show the tissue where it needs to grow.”



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In more than 300 surgeries in dogs, Cook found four requirements for success with the surgery. The surgical implantation of the scaffold must be completed correctly. While the scaffold incorporates itself with the surrounding tissue, the knee must be protected sufficiently through a strict rehabilitation protocol. The scaffold must have access to the blood supply of the remaining meniscus. Finally, the scaffold must be able to hold a blood clot in order to stimulate growth.

The surgery is not limited to new injuries. Cook believes in select cases the procedure might help older adults who experienced damaged knees years before. In addition, there have been no major side effects reported from implantation of the scaffold. Currently, the implants are being used in rotator cuff injuries, skin grafts and bladder reconstruction in humans.

Cook and DePuy, which makes the scaffold used in the surgeries, expect to receive FDA approval and begin the first phase of human surgeries this year. About 20 patients will receive the procedure in Memphis and Indianapolis. Following a successful trial, doctors will open the surgery to other patients. © 2004 Newswise. All Rights Reserved.




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