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Cartilage Repair for Osteoarthritis May Not Be Too Far Off

By January 23, 2010

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Osteoarthritis is one of the ten most disabling conditions in the world -- and as a consequence, the financial burden is rising for osteoarthritis. Researchers have long studied ways to achieve cartilage repair. The technique considered most promising is Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation (ACI).

With ACI, a sample of cartilage is non-invasively removed from a healthy site, cells are isolated and cultured, then re-implanted into the bad joint. There also is an enhanced method known as matrix-assisted ACI (MACI) -- whereby cultured cells are fixed to a biomaterial before being implanted. According to a review for F1000 Medicine Reports, ACI was once reserved for younger patients, but researchers now point out the need for more effective treatments for cartilage damage for osteoarthritis patients of all ages. More specific studies on elderly patients are needed, as well as a simplified procedure for implantation. Importantly, some researchers see ACI and MACI as an option for patients within the decade.

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