In osteoarthritis of the knee, cartilage that should cushion the bones erodes, leaving people in pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs can offer some relief, but they can’t cure the disease or bring back cartilage that’s already lost. Joint replacement gets people moving again, but their implants must eventually be replaced.
A possible solution might be found in a person’s nose. Ivan Martin, head of biomedicine at the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel, and colleagues led a study published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine that reports on bioengineering nasal chondrocytes — cells that form cartilage — and implanting them in the knee to grow new cartilage and resist inflammation better than the original knee cartilage. He’s been studying three-dimensional culture systems for cells to understand how tissues develop, how to control tissue formation, and how to turn tissues generated in the lab into possible grafts for tissue repair.