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Biologics Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and BioTek Instruments

Scaffold-Free MSC Cartilage Repair Passes Major Test

Biloine W. Young • Tue, January 9th, 2018

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The search goes on—for a biologic solution to damaged or worn-down cartilage.

Now a group of researchers at Osaka University have passed their first-in-man test of a novel, scaffold-free mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) solution. One year after implantation, healthy cartilage.

Here are the before and after photos.

Implantation / Source: Osaka University

What makes this approach so innovative is that is uses only allogenic MSC cells in a novel solution (supplier Twocells Company Ltd.) and then applies mechanical forces to “firm” up the solution into an injectable living cell treatment that will adhere to the knee and, without requiring a scaffold, differentiate and grow into cartilage repair tissue.

The lead investigators at Osaka University have progressed to Phase III in their clinical trial and this first-in-man test is highly encouraging.

Importantly, this is a direct result of the stem cell bank at Osaka University’s Medical Center for Translational Research.

Researchers Norimasa Nakamura, Hideki Yoshikawa, and Yoshiki Sawa tested this novel approach which, in some ways, mimics nature’s approach to driving progenitor cell differentiation. The Osaka team started with cell bank sourced MSCs, cultured them using a new form of cell culture solution, then, in a move which mirrors the natural forces which signal progenitor cells to differentiate—applied mechanical forces to the culturing cells and created a scaffold-free, three-dimensional gel-like, injectable living tissue.

As this first-in-man test demonstrated, the material can repair cartilage.

Here is a chart which illustrates the technique.

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