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Cartilage repair therapy

Bio-scaffold for articular cartilage regeneration



We are developing an ‘in-theatre’ or ‘single-stage’ scaffold-based product for articular cartilage repair in the knee, hip or ankle. Our proposed approach is to take joint derived cells that are isolated from patients ‘in-theatre’ and then delivered back to the damaged joint within a bioactive scaffold. This scaffold is capable of promoting cartilage tissue regeneration using the cells that are isolated from the damaged joint.

What Problem Does it Solve/Advantages

Current surgical procedures provide only temporary symptomatic relief. Alternative cell based therapies such as autologous chondrocytes implantation (ACI) are available, however these approaches require two hospital stays and are very expensive (€35,000), which may explain their relatively limited clinical uptake. There is therefore a significant commercial opportunity for a cost effective ‘single-stage’ or ‘in-theatre’ therapy for regenerating damaged articular cartilage. Such a therapy would represent a first line treatment option for damaged articular cartilage.
Advantage over existing technologies:
A novel bio-scaffold has been developed from cartilage extracellular-matrix (ECM), which we have recently demonstrated promotes robust new cartilage formation (see Figure left-top).
The technology overcomes the need for expensive and time consuming in vitro cell culture.
When seeded with enriched freshly isolated stromal cells, the construct generates cartilage-like tissue in vivo.

Commercial Applications

The joint and cartilage repair/replacement sector is estimated to be valued at approximately $19.4billion. This figure is projected to rise to $24.3billion by 2019.
Despite the large potential market for new cartilage repair products, the current market for tissue engineering products is relatively small, presumably due to poor efficacy of current technologies and/or the high costs associated with cell based therapies. Current revenue for such cartilage repair/regeneration products is estimated at $280.5 million pa, and this figure is increasing at a market growth rate of 10.8%. This leads to estimated potential revenue of $575.5 million by 2015. In particular, the tissue engineered cartilage market is predicted to increase to $207 million by 2014, exhibiting a 5 year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. (BCC Research report: Regenerative Medicines: Bone & Joint applications). The large difference between the potential ($24.3 billion) and actual ($207 million) market highlights the significant commercial potential for an effective, off-the-shelf product for articular cartilage regeneration.
Applications for this technology:
Knee cartilage repair
Hip cartilage repair
Ankle cartilage repair

Technology Status

A small animal study has been undertaken to demonstrate the efficiency of this approach.

Patent Status

IP Type: Patent
Priority application filed 15 Aug 2014
Priority application filed 16 Sept 2014


Prof. Daniel Kelly

Technology Transfer Case Manager: Dr Gordon Elliott

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