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Regenerative Medicine

Autologous Cultured Cartilage

Cultured Cartilage
Cultured Cartilage

Cartilage is the thin layer that covers the bones in joints such as knees and elbows, allowing them to move smoothly over each other. In healthy adults this layer is around 2-3 mm thick, but it becomes thinner with advancing age. As cartilage tissue does not naturally recover once damaged, it is extremely difficult to treat with drugs or other therapies. Now, however, the latest tissue-engineering technology means cartilage can be regenerated with cultured cartilage.


Development

The treatment of damaged cartilage has long been one of the aims of orthopedic surgery. Professor Mitsuo Ochi of Hiroshima University has taken small amounts of cartilage from patients with cartilage damage and produced cultured cartilage, which is then implanted into the defective area. The therapeutic technique he established is known as autologous cultured cartilage transplantation. J-TEC was quick to take notice of this method and obtained the guidance of Professor Ochi concerning his culture technique, in order to develop Japan's first ever cultured cartilage.

Culture

Transplantation of autologous cultured cartilage
An orthopedic surgeon carries out minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery (keyhole surgery) to collect a small amount of cartilage from the knee. This cartilage is sent to J-TEC and cultured after having been mixed with atelocollagen gel and shaped into a three-dimensional form. During the culture period, which lasts about four weeks, the cartilage cells (chondrocytes) proliferate and eventually reach a state closely resembling the properties of the original cartilage. This method is known as three-dimensional culture, and it is outstanding for the fact that it enables chondrocytes to be cultured while retaining their original properties.

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