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Cartilage grafts grown in lab dishes.

Replacements for joint cartilage ground down during athletics or inflamed by arthritis may one day come in sheets of living cells grown in the laboratory.

A team led by orthopedic researcher Daniel Grande of North Shore University Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center in Manhasset, N.Y., has cultured sheets of cartilage-secreting cells called chondrocytes in quantities large enough for use in resurfacing the injured knee joints of rabbits and dogs. If these animal trials succeed, Grande and his colleagues at Advanced Tissue Sciences, Inc., a La Jolla, Calif.-based biotechnology company, plan to test the grafts in humans.

The frafts consist of chondrocytes seeded on a matrix of dissolvable suture material. Grande's team grew the grafts in a tissue culture system, developed by Advanced Tissue Sciences, that maintains the proper oxygen level and physical stress for cartilage formation.

Because transplanted chondrocytes are poorly recognized by a recipient's immune system, Ron Cohen, Advanced Tissue Sciences' vice president for medical affairs, expects the grafts to provide a universal source for replacing cartilage in a wide variety of patients, regardless of tissue type. He predicts that the recipients' bodies will eventually substitute their own chondrocytes for the foreign ones.

Several other research groups have cultured chondrocytes in the laboratory, but Cohen says the resulting cartilage proved too weak to bear the weight of large animals. He asserts that the new technology should yield stronger cartilage.
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Author:Ezzell, Carol
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Apr 25, 1992
Words:232
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