With age or injury, the cartilage in our joints can break down, limiting movement and causing pain. Finding ways to regrow or replace this tissue could lead to highly sought-after treatments, but this repair work requires a delicate touch in order to have a lasting effect.
Now, in a study recently published in the journal Advanced Materials, researchers from Penn Engineering and the Perelman School of Medicine have shown how to use magnetic fields to carefully position those tissues’ cells. By better mimicking their naturally occurring internal structure, this technique can produce cartilage tissue that is more likely to make a solid bond with the bone it’s in contact with.
“We found that we were able to arrange objects, such as cells, in ways that could generate new, complex tissues without having to alter the cells themselves,” said the study’s first author, Hannah Zlotnick, a graduate student in Bioengineering who works in the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory at Penn Medicine. “Others have had to add magnetic particles to the cells so that they respond to a magnetic field, but that approach can have unwanted long-term effects on cell health. Instead, we manipulated the magnetic character of the environment surrounding the cells, allowing us to arrange the objects with magnets.”
Continue reading at Penn Medicine News.