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Collaborations (new)

Evaluation of Implanted Cartilage Repair Scaffolds
Suzanne Maher, Assistant Scientist, Hospital for Special Surgery, NYC.
Funding: Arthritis Foundation: A Novel Hydrogel for Focal Cartilage Defect Repair (7/06- 6/09).

Mature articular cartilage does not possess an intrinsic ability to heal, and therefore small focal cartilage defects can propagate unchecked to include the entire joint, eventually leading to arthritis, which is the nation’s leading cause of disability. The need exists to establish a reliable method to treat young active patients with chondral defects early in the course of the problem to delay or eliminate the need for a total joint replacement. The Maher lab has developed a non-cell derived scaffold intended to act as a permanent implant to stabilize cartilage defects and to prevent the spread of damage to the remainder of the joint (Charlton et al, 2007). This synthetic, porous, partly-degradable scaffold has mechanical properties within the range of that of articular cartilage and has the ability to exude water from its surface, similar to articular cartilage. Scaffold porosity can be controlled via the method of manufacture and the scaffold can be manufactured to contain growth factor seeded microparticles. However, the ability of the scaffold to carry joint loads and to be stably integrated with surrounding musculoskeletal tissue is unknown.  The objective of this new collaboration is to use MPM (and SHG) imaging to examine the integration of repair scaffolds into sheep articular cartilage, initially working in explants, but with the long term goal of in vivo arthroscopic microscopy.

Preliminary imaging experiments will be conducted on ex vivo implants subjected to chondrocyte migratory studies. These specimens will either be shipped to DRBIO or imaged at the DRBIO-Weill MPM system constructed for the endoscopy collaboration previously described. Initial imaging experiments will enable us to evaluate whether MPM can be used to assess the microarchitecture of the repair scaffold and how well it integrates into the surrounding cartilage. If these experiments show promise, MPM imaging studies will be synchronized with the availability of sheep knees undergoing mechanical testing. Implant testing is extremely expensive due to the necessity for euthanizing multiple sheep at several time points after implantation and a minimally invasive arthroscopic inspection of cartilage microstructure would greatly facilitate the work. The ultimate goal of this project will be to test the MPM arthroscope for visually assessing cartilage implants repeatedly in the same animal.  Photophysical characterization of collagen SHG and autofluorescence will be necessary to interpret these results.

References

Charlton D.C., Peterson M.G.E., Spiller K., Lowman A., Torzilli P.A., Maher S.A., 2007. Semi-Degradable Scaffold for Articular Cartilage Replacement. Tissue Engineering, in Press.

 

 

 

 

 



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