UC Davis researchers say they have found a way to produce artificial cartilage that's pretty close to the real thing.
Researchers are hoping it will eventually help some people with arthritis avoid hip and knee replacements.
Cartilage is the padding between your bones that allows for movement and range of motion.
Kyriacos Athanasiou is a professor of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis.
He says previous attempts at engineered cartilage have failed to withstand the long-term pressure we put on our joints.
"To give you an idea. Every time I take a step, I can apply six times my body weight across each one of my knees," says Athanasiou.
To develop a stronger cartilage, researchers in his lab slowly stretched the tissue as it was being generated from a few natural cells.
He says their engineered tissue is six times as strong as any other.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, 30 million Americans have osteoarthritis, also referred to as joint pain due to deteriorating cartilage.
Athanasiou says osteoarthritis starts with small defects in your cartilage.
“With our approach, we should be able to treat these defects before they destroy the entire joint,” says Athanasiou.
His tissue has been tested in rabbits, mice, sheep and other animals for short periods of time.
The next step is testing for longer periods and eventually going through a human safety test and an FDA approval process.