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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Cell- and Tissue-based Approaches for Cartilage Repair

Tim Hardingham

Damage and degeneration of articular joints is a major healthcare concern, due to the association of joint disease with ageing, the current strong demographic changes in the proportion of elderly in the population, and the increased incidence of trauma in a sports-active younger population. These joints are biomechanical organs that transmit load between bones in our skeleton, and the articular cartilage forms a load-bearing surface that covers the bone within the joints. All the forces across the joints are thus transmitted through the cartilage, and it therefore makes an important biomechanical contribution to joint function. The cartilage is particularly prone to damage, and has limited capacity for natural repair. Although joint replacement is successful, it is less so in younger patients. For these patients, there is currently great interest in developing cell-based treatments for the biological repair of articular cartilage.