Polymer Centre Research Highlight-Cartilage-Like Tissue Engineering

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2015 in News, Publications| Share this article

Polymer centre academics, Dr Aileen Crawford and Prof Paul Hatton, have reported the use of a cell seeded porous hydrogel to form cartilage-like tissue. The work was carried out in collaboration with Julio San Roman from CSIC in Madrid.

Osteoarthritis, a painful condition affecting over 10 % of the population, arises from the degradation of cartilage within the joints. The number of sufferers of Osteoarthritis is expected to rise in the future as a result of the aging population and increased levels of obesity. Adult cartilage is unable to self-repair and as a result various methods for reproducing cartilage are being investigated. One method is based on a tissue engineering (TE) treatment using chondrocytes (the only cells found in healthy cartilage) seeded onto biomaterials.

In an earlier publication, hybrid materials based on semi-interpenetrated networks (IPN) of poly(2-ethyl-(2-pyrrolidone)methacrylate) (PEPM), and hyaluronic acid (HA) were reported. To form the IPN, PEPM forms polymer chains which are connected together by a crosslinker, allowing the entrapment of HA. These IPNs are further investigated in this article with varying conditions to create ideal environments for seeding of cells and their growth. HA acts as a cell carrier in the PEPM network and is already used in the treatment of Osteoarthritis to improve lubrication of joints.

In the scanning electron micrograph below, the cells are shown to be attached to the IPN and maintain their spherical character. The less tightly cross-linked systems exhibited increased water uptake and better cell spreading. The PEPM-HA systems did not badly affect cell growth and overall exhibited good biocompatibility.


Original publication: Poly(2-ethyl-(2-pyrrolidone)methacrylate) and hyaluronic acid based hydrogels for the engineering of a cartilage-like tissue using bovine articular chondrocytes, Joana Magalhães et al., Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 545-559, November 2014.

Article by Dominic Gray; a PhD Student on the EPSRC Polymers, Soft Matter and Colloids CDT programme. For more information, please contact Dr Joe Gaunt at the Polymer Centre.