New Generation Hyaluronic Acid Subject of U Penn Study
A team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) has found a way to provide aching joints some respite from cartilage breakdown. Their novel work, “Stabilization of damaged articular cartilage with hydrogel-mediated reinforcement and sealing,” was published in the March 18, 2021 edition of Advanced Healthcare Materials.
Lead author, Jay Patel, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at Emory University, described the motivation for new study to OTW, “The development of a new hyaluronic acid (HA) was motivated by the need to modify the surface of damaged cartilage to improve repair. We wanted to specifically tailor the properties of the HA to provide both biophysical and biochemical cues to improve how injected stem cells adhere to damaged cartilage and then sense and respond in a desired manner.”
When OTW asked what is particularly difficult about restoring fluid pressurization within the tissue, Dr. Patel explained, “Healthy cartilage is a dense connective tissue composed of collagen and proteoglycans. When degeneration commences these elements are lost, reducing the ability of the tissue to pressurize. Introducing a treatment that restores the biomechanical input of both collagen and proteoglycans (biphasic response) makes restoring fluid pressurization difficult, as well as infiltration and efficacy of these therapies within the damaged tissue.”
And how does their HA restrict fluid flow?
“We think of the HA ‘clogging’ up the pores within loosened, damaged cartilage, decreasing the ability for fluid to flow within the damaged tissue,” said co-author Robert L. Mauck, Ph.D., director of Penn Medicine’s McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, to OTW. “In addition, the HA localizes, and guides injected stem cells to form a protective tissue layer over the defect, potentially reducing fluid flow even more, and preventing the loss of cartilage matrix.”
“We envision this HA therapy as an off-the-shelf product that could be used at various stages of cartilage degeneration, from first visualization of focal defects during arthroscopic evaluation of a damaged joint to cases of advanced osteoarthritis, both with our without concurrent stem cell injections.”