Chondral or osteochondral damages, whether caused by mechanical forces or degenerated pathologically, will eventually result in osteoarthritis (OA), which is affecting the lives of over 50% of the population older than 60 years of age. Cartilage repair of traumatic damages and bigger lesions of OA, is the focus of Living Tissues.
Although the cartilage looks simple, an articular cartilage damage cannot be effectively repaired like a "pothole". The cartilage is a in fact a complex tissue with many distinct zonal differences through the entire thickness of the cartilage. The clinical gold standard of cartilage repair is the OATS [Osteochondral Autograft Transfer System], in which cylindrical plugs are taken from a donor site of the patient. Each plug, better known as graft, includes the healthy cartilage and the bone underneath. The entire plug or multiple number of plugs are implanted to the damaged area of the articular joint. The OATS procedure is limited to repairs of less than 3 cm square in size. The OATS procedure requires harvesting healthy tissues from donor site, which is usually a non-load bearing part of the joint, thus creating new damages to the patient. The area of the donor site is a limiting factor.
We at Living Tissues use the donor's stem cells and grow a complex tissue plug, just like the plug used in OATS. The tissues are grown mimicking the natural tissues. The plug is implanted into the damaged area just like the OATS procedure, only that our approach does not require harvesting osteochondral plugs from a donor site. Therefore the area of the repair can be bigger than 3 cm square.