Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that is found between joint articulating surfaces and functions as a lubricant for joints. Once damaged, articular cartilage lacks the ability to properly repair itself since it has no vasculature, and this can lead to debilitating joint pain. There are various techniques available to attack this problem, but none currently seem to be long term solutions to regenerating cartilage.
A promising technology called matrix assisted autologous chondrocyte transplantation (MACT) could be a practical, long term solution. With MACT, cartilage stem cells, chondrocytes, are harvested from patients, grown in culture, and then encapsulated in three dimensional scaffolds. The scaffolds are intended to serve as an implant that creates an environment to facilitate cartilage regeneration.
I am looking at the potential for poly (ethylene glycol) (PEG) norbornene hydrogels to act as a scaffold for cartilage regeneration. I intend to look at how the gels with chondrocytes behave in vivo and whether this system can be used as an implant in a clinical setting.
Hydrogel with encapsulated chondrocytes that is stained for glycosaminoglycans. Cell nuclei stain black and GAGs stain red.