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Virginia Tech research finds Swedish method of human cartilage repair shows good durability

As the population ages, arthritis will become more prevalent. It would be helpful to know more about the causes and treatments of cartilage wear.

Michael Furey, Virginia Tech professor emeritus of mechanical and biomedical engineering, recently conducted the first study of wear in human cartilage. Furey will report his research and results at the 231st American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta March 26-30.

Furey has been studying lubrication and wear of cartilage for 20 years. Many years ago, he took a one-year sabbatical to work at the Boston Children's Hospital Medical Center to carry out studies of cartilage wear using bovine cartilage. He demonstrated the importance of fluid biochemistry on wear. In one example, a complex protein isolated by David Swann reduced cartilage wear by 90 percent when added to a saline reference fluid-a level equaling that of normal bovine synovial fluid.

For the last eight years, Furey and Hugo P. Veit, professor of pathobiology in the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, and their students have continued the research on the biochemistry of cartilage wear based on bovine cartilage.

While Furey and his group at Virginia Tech had been developing methods of measuring cartilage wear, Mats Brittberg of the Cartilage Research Unit of Goteborg University had developed methods of cartilage repair, including autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI). But the Swedish group had no idea how long the repair would last -- days, weeks, months, years? Thus, three years ago a collaboration was born to conduct what the two groups believe is the first research of human cartilage wear under controlled "in vitro" conditions.

Brittberg's ACI method involves taking small samples of healthy cartilage from a patient's damaged joint, culturing the tissue in a Petri dish under controlled conditions to allow millions of chondrocyte cells to grow, and then injecting these
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Contact: Susan Trulove
STrulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
29-Mar-2006


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