ITALY – Stem cells to replace damaged ligaments

(Stem Cells News image)

All those who have suffered ligament damage could benefit from artificial ligaments built biologically. But, experimentation on artificial ligaments, which could come from stem cells and naturally replace damaged tissue, will not continue. Speaking about the issue was Luigi Ambrosio, one of the researchers of the Institute of Technology of Composite Material of the National Research Council (CNR) in Naples, who contributed to the realization of this biological ligament. Two solutions were proposed by the Neapolitan laboratory.

One solution was to build a biodegradable structure out of hyaluronic acid, one of the components of ligament tissue that repairs or replaces the damaged parts of the ligament. The more efficient result was obtained by building an artificial ligament from adult stem cells, which grow and differentiate into tissue. Despite the good results obtained in animals in lab experiments, human experiments will not be done due to a lack of funds, even if the solution proposed by the CNR in Naples could help maintain a good physical condition for a longer time.

The alternative today is to replace damaged ligaments with ligaments from other parts of the body or replacing the damaged tissue with artificial materials, mainly polymers that mimic their structure. However, these techniques, chosen mainly for athletes who must recover quickly, can create long-term problems. As Ambrosio said, “various structures, especially polymers, have been constructed, but none have given the results hoped for and have almost all been abandoned. The material developed by our laboratories,” concluded the researcher “could help people overcome problems with an important improvement in the quality of life and a reduction in costs for the patient”.

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