Osteoporosis cannot yet be cured. Hope is now given by nanofibers, which, thanks to piezoelectricity, allow new cartilage to grow.
Storrs (USA). arthritis It is one of the most common causes of chronic pain. In the case of joint diseases, chronic inflammation accumulates cartilage in the joints until the bones finally come into contact with the bones. Until now Medicine Relieve the symptoms and ask for the meniscus to break down with medication, but not yet reverse it. Therefore, there are only treatment methods in which the deteriorated cartilage is replaced by healthy cartilage from another area of the body. However, this leads to injuries at the extraction point.
There have also been attempts to regrow the cartilage in the damaged joint. However, this did not work because the cartilage growth could not stabilize the normal cartilage.
Electrical signals cause cartilage to grow
world University of Connecticut They have now tried a new method for targeted cartilage regrowth. Yang Lui’s team continued, according to their publication in the specialized magazine Translational Medicine Sciences For electrical signals rather than chemical growth factors. Studies have shown that cartilage responds to electrical stimulation. “Electric fields promote tissue regeneration,” explains Lowe.
So the researchers developed a framework Nanofasrnethanks Piezoelektrizität It generates an electrical voltage under mechanical load. The material used is a biodegradable polymeric poly-L-lactic acid, which has so far been used to close surgical wounds, for example.
Cartilage grows in cell culture
In one experiment, the framework made of nanofibers was able to grow new cartilage in cell culture. The scientists then tested this method on rabbits, where they previously caused severe cartilage damage similar to what happened in people with osteoarthritis. Some of the animals were then implanted using a piezoelectric nanoscaffold. Rabbits implanted with a similar nanoscaffold without piezoelectricity, and rabbits that did not receive an implant served as control groups.
Nanoscale scaffolding allows the growth of cartilage in rabbits
After the four-week recovery phase, half of the three groups completed a training program in which the animals moved on a treadmill. The piezoelectric material in the first implanted group generated a weak electric field by compression and stretching. After one to two months, the scientists examined the condition of the cartilage of the previously killed animals.
In animals that have undergone piezoelectric implants and training, damaged cartilage is almost completely regenerated. Whether the training was carried out for a month or two, it made almost no difference to the result. “Just one month of training led to significant cartilage healing and did not leave much room for further improvements,” the scientists said. Cartilage healing was significantly worse in animals that did not undergo piezoelectric implants or did not complete the training programme.
More animal studies
“Piezoelectricity is a phenomenon also present in the human body. Bones, cartilage, collagen, DNA, and various proteins have a piezoelectric response. Our approach to treating cartilage is highly clinically applicable, and we will investigate the healing mechanisms involved,” explains Liu.
However, before clinical studies in humans can be conducted, animal experiments should clarify unanswered questions. For this purpose, experiments should be carried out on animals that are more similar to humans in terms of weight and size. In addition, animals should be monitored for at least one year to ensure that the cartilage has a sufficiently long shelf life.
Science Translational Medicine, doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abi7282