Cell-based therapies using cartilage cells (i.e., chondrocytes) from a healthy area of the knee joint are already available as routine treatments but exhibit several drawbacks. The few cell-based therapies actually on the market have not shown superiority of clinical efficacy as compared to standard techniques
Innovations in Nose to Knee:
The engineered nasal cartilage graft (N-TEC) is combining two innovations to overcome the current drawbacks:
- Use of cartilage cells from the nose: Harvesting cartilage from the nose is associated with minimal donor-site-morbidity (no adverse reactions in over 100 patients) and avoids damage to a still healthy area of the knee. In addition, investigations performed in the lab and published scientific journals have proven that the nasal chondrocytes have better capacity to expand and to form good quality cartilage than chondrocytes from the knee joint. The resulting cartilage graft is able to stand mechanical forces typically associated with the joint loading and the cells react in the same way as knee chondrocytes by producing proteins necessary for joint lubrication.
- Implantation of a tissue instead of a cell-based graft: The implantation of an engineered cartilage tissue provides more stability to the graft and provide a more protection of the cells to inflammatory insults.
A small biopsy (6 mm of diameter) of nasal cartilage is harvested from the septum of the patient, the tissue is treated with an enzymatic digestion solution that break the extracellular matrix and liberate the cells. The isolated chondrocytes are multiplied in a nutrient solution for two weeks and then loaded into a biodegradable collagen scaffold and cultured for additional two weeks with a new solution allowing them to grow and build up a cartilage like tissue. After a total of 4 weeks, the cartilage graft is ready and provided to the surgeons. In the operating theatre, the graft is shaped and sized to fit the cartilage defect to be repaired. After removing the damaged cartilage, the manufactured graft is implanted in the knee cartilage defect of the patients.
All cell culture steps are performed in a highly controlled and sterile laboratory called clean room by trained and expertly qualified personal according to national and international regulations for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products.