• Tissue Engineered Cartilage-Bone plug

Tissue Engineered Cartilage-Bone plug (Photo : www.hku.hk/press)

Chinese surgeons applied German technology in successfully regenerating cartilage and transplanting it on a patient's damaged knee.

Cartilage tissue cells were extracted and grown outside a 42-year-old male patient's body for 12 days. He underwent the one-hour surgery on Thursday at the People's Hospital of Jilin Province in northeast China. The operation was conducted in cooperation with a German research institute and biotechnology company.

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Zhang Liheng, director of the hospital's sports medicine center, noted that China's cartilage regeneration technology is still at the clinical experimental stage.

Hyaline cartilage cushions bones around the joints to keep them from rubbing against each other. If damaged, movement of the joints becomes limited, and patients experience severe pain and disability.

Clinicians have substituted the tissue with other materials, but the movement of the joint would not fully recover. The latest regeneration technology allows repair to the cartilage and permanently cures the joint.

Meanwhile, Israel also has a revolutionary cartilage regenerating technology called Agili-C that is being prepared for a 2017 launch in Europe.

On top of addressing knee cartilage damaged by traumatic injury, Agili-C is being tested for cases of osteoarthritis that could significantly widen its potential market. It was developed by Israeli firm CartiHeal and first reported two years ago.

In Dec. 2015, it was also reported that a University of Hong Kong team has developed a technology to grow cartilage tissues out of stem cells extracted from bone marrow in the shape and fit required.

With replacements being fully biocompatible, there would no longer be a need harvest donor cartilage from the patients.

The main technology is to grow cartilage tissues with underlying bone tissues by using the patient's stem cells that were isolated from accessible sources such as the bone marrow.

There have been numerous unsatisfactory attempts to repair cartilages and it is generally known that a replacement by a healthy cartilage transplant is the ideal solution.