Regenerative therapy to treat knee joint damages gets a boost with a breakthrough technology of growing ideal type of cartilage cells including chondroprogenitors and mesenchymal stem cells enriched with hyaluronic acid (HA), reported by Dr Shojiro Katoh, President, Edogawa Hospital in “The KNEE” journal (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.knee.2021.02.019). Edogawa Evolutionary Laboratory of Science (EELS) researchers accomplished this feat using a 3D tissue engineering scaffold, without externally added HA or growth factors. They hope this technology will improvise the clinical outcome of Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI) and Matrix Assisted Chondrocyte Implantation (MACI) treatments.
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Edogawa Hospital team that accomplished a novel feat of regenerating osteoarthritis affected knee cartilage tissue through tissue engineering into clinically transplant-worthy chondrocytes enriched with hyaluronic acid, expressing chondroprogenitors; Sitting L>R: Dr. Shojiro Katoh (President), Dr. Masahiro Katoh (Chairman), Mr. Ryuzaburo Katoh (Director); Standing L>R; Other members of the team: Ms. Takako Fujisaki, Ms. Ayumi Mitsuhashi & Ms. Junko Tomioka. (Photo: Business Wire)
Regenerative medicine applications for articular cartilage repair require growing chondrocytes taken from patients’ own joint, in the lab, followed by transplantation to the disease affected portion, enable them restore, replace, rejuvenate or regenerate the cartilage in ACI or MACI procedures, practiced by orthopedicians and arthroscopy surgeons worldwide. The lab environment makes the chondrocytes, many a time, grow as fibrocartilage, whereas, hyaline cartilage is the ideal type of tissue required, which contributes to weight bearing function of the joint. Having proven hyaline cartilage growth in vitro (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reth.2020.03.006) and their in vivo efficacy (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jor.2017.01.003), EELS team has now proven that stem cell like progenitors and mesenchymal stem cells residing in the human cartilage could be grown without artificial reprogramming or animal proteins or feeder layers (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jor.2021.01.005).
Hyaluranon (HA) in the matrix is essential for homeostasis of cartilage, which is injected to treat cartilage damages in clinics and in the lab, added from external sources to support chondrocyte culture. On the contrary, Dr Katoh`s team used a polymer scaffold that retains chondrocyte secreted HA to enhance their growth as a tissue, yielding higher HA content. This is another milestone in regenerative medicine, as it produces chondrocytes that are most suitable for clinical transplant with potentials for better healing and value addition to existing ACI and MACI procedures, after relevant clinical validation.
Further studies on miRNA-140, another essential cartilage component and the technology’s anti-aging capabilities are underway to address debilitating joint diseases affecting millions worldwide in this method termed “EELS-TALC”, (Enriched with Essentials and Lapped in Scaffold, Transplant-suitable Autologous Leveraged Chondrocytes) in collaboration among EELS, JBM Inc and GN Corporation.
Samuel JK Abraham