Multi-factor knee meniscus tissue engineering
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, and is often viewed as age-related, “wear and tear” degeneration of the cartilage lining the joints. OA of the knee is one of the most prevalent causes of adult pain and physical disability. The knee meniscus is a type of cartilage which cushions the knee joint. Injuries to the meniscus, which occur fairly frequently, have been shown to accelerate osteoarthritic degeneration, and current treatment options for repair do not stop degeneration. Creating the meniscus in the laboratory via tissue engineering could potentially create a supply for repair and/or replacement tissue, that is, if a viable cell source can be established.
Dr. Lam’s work will manipulate adult stem cells taken from liposuctioned fat to become meniscal-like cells. Due to the fact the knee is a highly mechanical environment, Dr. Lam wll apply mechanical forces combined with various biochemicals to encourage the cells to becme more like meniscus cells. These cells will then be used to engineer a meniscus replacement.
Results of the work will provide valuable insight into the cellular response of adult stem cells to mechanical environments and provide tools for encouraging stem cells to become specific cell types. Ultimately, Dr. Lam hopes that she will create a readily available source of transplant tissue for future patient treatment.