This first intervention is a part of the experimental clinical study “BIO-CHIP” funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020, which involves the enrollment of patients from Galeazzi Orthopedic Institute and four other European centers: the University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland; the Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, Germany, the Sveti Duh University Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia and the University of Würzburg, Germany.
The first person that was operated in Italy is a young patient, who has been suffering from a cartilaginous lesion of the knee for over three years, causing him severe pain and limiting it to a functional level.
Photo Operating room – image from the archive.
The cartilage regeneration procedure consists of two phases: in a first step, a small biopsy of cartilage from the nasal septum was collected and sent to a special laboratory in Germany, where the cartilage cells were grown and then cultured onto a special membrane. In the second phase, the resulting construct was cut to duplicate the shape and the size of the cartilage lesion of the knee and then transplanted to cover the lesion. In the following months, the cells will continue to develop and produce a new cartilage matrix, which will fill the defect, replenishing a new cartilaginous tissue.
In order to achieve this important milestone, many years of basic and pre-clinical research in the field of regenerative medicine were carried out by scientists working in the Tissue Engineering Lab (University Hospital of Basel, Switzerland) and by the clinicians Dr. med Marcus Mumme and Prof. Dr. med Marcel Jakob, who were invited as observer in the operating room for the first implant of the BIO-CHIP study in Italy.
Prof. Giuseppe Peretti said: “This is relatively simple intervention from a technical point of view. What is very extraordinary? This research carried out by Prof. Ivan Martin’s group at the University Hospital of Basel (Switzerland) over the years, which discovers the qualities of nasal chondrocytes. This is a potentially very promising clinical application. Cells derived from the nasal septum have been proven to be more effective in producing cartilaginous neo-tissue as compared to cells from the knee, both with regards to the biochemical composition and the mechanical properties, both fundamental elements for the correct function of the articular cartilage. The few available techniques of articular cartilage repair using the regenerative medicine approaches do not guarantee the successful repair of the lesion in 100% of the cases. The hope is that with this new technique, the cartilage is completely rebuilt and that the first tangible results can be obtained already at a distance of 6 months or 1 year from the intervention and, above all, that the quality of the tissue is lasting even in patients with an intense physical activity“.
The enrolment of patients continues for the study. This clinical trial is open to patients of both sexes aged between 18 and 65, who do not already have severe osteoarthritic joint degeneration and who are affected by one or two cartilage lesions of the knee, with a total extension of no more than 8 square centimetres.
Press-release news in Italian language is here:
Translation from Italian to English language was provided by Dr. Andrea Barbero, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.