The human knee is a complex and problematic joint. It’s fair to say that it hasn’t adapted well to our greatly expanded life expectancy and trend towards obesity; painful osteoarthritis is the number one cause of chronic disability. One promising stream involves the idea of using 3D printing technology to deposit stem cells directly into damaged areas of cartilage so it can grow back as healthy tissue.
Degradation of the knee cartilage can be brought on by all sorts of causes – trauma, hereditary and developmental factors or even just plain wear and tear – but the result is the same. Without healthy cartilage cushioning the point where the femur sits on top of the tibia, those two bones grind away at each other with the full weight of the body behind them, causing painful and incapacitating damage over time.
As yet, nobody has discovered a more effective barrier than human cartilage itself, so there’s no shortage of research going into the creation of new cartilage to replace or repair worn out joints. … (Read more)