Hip Joint Function diagram
Implant configuration and surgical procedure. (Credit: Science Advances)

A textile-based implant containing cartilage derived from stem cells reduced pain and restored hip joint function to baseline levels in a study of dogs with symptoms of moderate osteoarthritis. The study could be a significant first step toward preventative, less-invasive joint resurfacing.

The implant is made using a unique combination of manufacturing techniques that result in a part textile, part 3D-printed structure, which can be seeded with the patient’s own stem cells.

In humans — and in dogs — a single, millimeter-thick layer of cartilage can mean the difference between an active lifestyle or painful osteoarthritis. That tiny cap of cartilage is what protects joint surfaces and allows the bones to glide over one another smoothly. Age or joint injury can cause the cartilage to degrade, leading to osteoarthritis and progressive joint pain.

The researchers designed a study to test the implant for resurfacing joints in dogs, a critical step in translating this technology into use for both canine and human patients.

In the study, cartilage was allowed to grow on the implant for several weeks before surgery. Then the implant was placed into the damaged area of the hip’s ball joint. Over time, the implant dissolved, ultimately leaving only the patient’s own natural tissue in the repaired hip joint.

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