Breaking News
March 20, 2018 - ‘Fast track’ project shows promising results in cancer whole genome analyses
March 20, 2018 - Advanced insulin pump system can also manage type 1 diabetes in children, study shows
March 20, 2018 - Flu risk less on flights if in a window seat finds study
March 20, 2018 - Sarepta Therapeutics Announces Plan to Submit a New Drug Application (NDA) for Accelerated Approval of Golodirsen (SRP-4053) in Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) Amenable to Skipping Exon 53
March 20, 2018 - Post-Transplant Fatty Liver Disease on the Rise
March 20, 2018 - New mutation linked to ovarian cancer can be passed down through dad
March 20, 2018 - Scotland study aims to offer precise diagnoses for people with rare genetic diseases
March 20, 2018 - Stem cell treatment may help rejuvenate ovaries, avoid effects of premature menopause
March 20, 2018 - FDA Approves Hizentra (Immune Globulin Subcutaneous [Human] 20% Liquid) for the Treatment of Patients With Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP)
March 20, 2018 - Death Strikes Young in RA
March 20, 2018 - Quiescent cells also mutate
March 20, 2018 - Stem cell-derived ocular cells treat severe AMD
March 20, 2018 - Mediterranean diet appears to be good for postmenopausal women’s bones and muscles
March 20, 2018 - Scientists discover rare childhood liver cancer’s ability to metastasize to the brain
March 20, 2018 - Treating metastatic breast cancer with immunotherapy
March 20, 2018 - The 5:2 diet could have beneficial impact on important risk markers for cardiovascular disease
March 20, 2018 - Congress tackles the opioid epidemic. But how much will it help?
March 20, 2018 - Neanderthals Just Part of the Evolutionary Puzzle
March 20, 2018 - Higher Mortality With Surgery for Early NSCLC
March 20, 2018 - Researchers go skin deep to explore what causes wrinkles
March 20, 2018 - E-cigarette use linked to fat accumulation in the liver
March 20, 2018 - Fearful worms provide new clues about human anxiety
March 20, 2018 - Oral micronized progesterone may reduce hot flashes, night sweats in perimenopausal women
March 20, 2018 - Newer treatment for type 2 diabetes reduces liver fat in patients with NAFLD
March 20, 2018 - I.D. Break: PrEP Map; Faulty Flu Meds; Better Zika Test?
March 20, 2018 - Bronchial thermoplasty can improve severe asthmatic cough
March 19, 2018 - Speeding up wound healing using nanofiber dressings
March 19, 2018 - Summit Announces New Analysis Showing Ezutromid Significantly Reduced Muscle Inflammation in Phase 2 Clinical Trial in DMD
March 19, 2018 - Optimizing Sham Acupuncture: That’s Improbable!
March 19, 2018 - Women who have gestational diabetes in pregnancy are at higher risk of future health issues
March 19, 2018 - Viagra cuts colorectal cancer risk in animal model
March 19, 2018 - Vitamin B12 supplementation could postpone disease progression in Parkinson’s patients
March 19, 2018 - Study shows that omega-6 fatty acids could protect against premature death
March 19, 2018 - TherapeuticsMD Announces FDA Acceptance of New Drug Application (NDA) and Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) Date for TX-001HR
March 19, 2018 - Minorities More Sensitive To Pain? Pain Medicine News Report
March 19, 2018 - Low blood sugar poses unaddressed threat to people with type 2 diabetes
March 19, 2018 - ACEA goes live with exhaustive, searchable library of NovoCyte publications
March 19, 2018 - Consumption of low-calorie sweeteners could promote metabolic syndrome, increase diabetes risk
March 19, 2018 - Wearable medical patch shows promise for early detection of hypoglycemia in type 1 diabetes
March 19, 2018 - High-energy breakfast leads to better diabetes control and weight loss
March 19, 2018 - D.C. Week: Community Health Centers Get Azar’s Love
March 19, 2018 - Younger siblings of SIDS victims have four-fold increased risk of sudden death
March 19, 2018 - Toothpaste alone does not prevent dental erosion or hypersensitivity
March 19, 2018 - Discovery aids understanding of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
March 19, 2018 - Hormone imbalance may be reason for higher diabetes rates among men with insufficient sleep
March 19, 2018 - Docs worry there’s ‘nowhere to send’ new and expectant moms with depression
March 19, 2018 - Obesity linked to increased DNA damage in breast epithelium of BRCA mutation carriers
March 19, 2018 - Heart rate increases with higher alcohol consumption
March 19, 2018 - Template produced for clinically validated DIY stethoscope
March 19, 2018 - Experts highlight nocturia as most common cause of poor night’s sleep
March 19, 2018 - Fit Middle-Aged Women May Fend Off Dementia Later
March 19, 2018 - Fake Insta Doc; Humana’s Weird Pay Bump Tax Trick; Few NPDB Searches
March 19, 2018 - Guidelines for fluoride intake—are they appropriate?
March 19, 2018 - Race and pre-pregnancy BMI may be key predictors of maternal weight gain
March 19, 2018 - Telediabetes program improves blood sugar control for veterans
March 19, 2018 - Research suggests breastfeeding as protective factor against obesity in high-birthweight infants
March 19, 2018 - Morning Break: House Nixes ‘Right-to-Try’ Bill; Purdue’s PR Makeover; Air in the Brain
March 19, 2018 - Heart researchers develop a new, promising imaging technique for cardiac arrhythmias
March 19, 2018 - Mice study shows how BPA exposure during pregnancy can lead to altered brain development
March 19, 2018 - Breastfeeding mothers who overeat may increase risk of health problems in offspring
March 19, 2018 - New mobile application can detect atrial fibrillation that causes strokes
March 19, 2018 - Study finds low rates of preconception counseling among women of childbearing age with diabetes
March 19, 2018 - Vitl Life Science Solutions announces launch of new Lu-mini at analytica 2018
March 19, 2018 - ObsEva SA Reports Positive Topline Results from IMPLANT2 Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Nolasiban in IVF
March 19, 2018 - D.C. Week: States Plead for Federal $$ in Opioid Fight
March 19, 2018 - Polycystic ovary syndrome – Genetics Home Reference
March 19, 2018 - Reducing co-payments improves patient, physician adherence to guideline-recommended treatment post-MI
March 19, 2018 - Normalizing estrogen levels can benefit female athletes with irregular menstrual periods
March 19, 2018 - Fitness trackers and virtual coaches motivate patients to exercise post cardiac rehab
March 19, 2018 - Atrial fibrillation patients could reduce risk of dementia by taking stroke prevention drugs
March 19, 2018 - Low sperm count more prevalent with other health problems finds study
March 19, 2018 - Male birth control pill taken once a day shows success
March 19, 2018 - AcelRx Announces Receipt of Type A FDA Meeting Minutes and Plans to Resubmit the DSUVIA New Drug Application in Q2 2018
March 19, 2018 - Eye Docs Adopt EHRs Despite Reservations
March 19, 2018 - CRISPR enhances cancer immunotherapy
March 19, 2018 - Study finds first evidence of delayed aging among Americans
March 19, 2018 - Aussies unaware of sun protection rules to prevent skin cancer
March 19, 2018 - Essential oils linked to abnormal breast development in boys
March 19, 2018 - ‘Tummy Tuck’ Relieved Postpartum Back Pain/Incontinence
March 19, 2018 - New biomarkers for neuroblastoma, a type of cancer in children
Treating osteoarthritis using artificial cartilage tissue

Treating osteoarthritis using artificial cartilage tissue

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
SINTEF researcher and biotechnologist Øystein Arlov shows us an alginate gel that literally acts as a growth medium for artificial cartilage cells. Credit: Thor Nielsen

A Norwegian-Swiss research team has succeeded in growing cartilage tissue cells using algae. Moreover, the new cells can reduce joint inflammation. This news gives hope for people suffering from arthrosis, also known as osteoarthritis.

Currently there are no medications or treatments available to cure a condition that causes cartilage tissue, which acts as a shock absorber in the joints, to wear away in response to the breakdown of its collagen fibres. The condition is very painful. The stress on the bone structure in the joint becomes too great, resulting in both inflammation and minute bone fractures. About half of us will suffer from arthrosis during our lives.

The news that the research team has succeeded in growing cartilage tissue using macroalgae (brown seaweeds) as a raw material has thus attracted worldwide attention.

SINTEF researcher Øystein Arlov, who works on a daily basis with biotechnology and nanomedicine, is part of the team that has produced these sensational results. He has a Ph.D. in biopolymer chemistry from NTNU based on his studies of alginates – the gelatinous cell-wall materials found in seaweeds.

“When I was studying for my doctorate under the supervision of Professor Gudmund Skjåk-Bræk, my aim was to manipulate the structure of alginate (made up of a chain of saccharide molecules), in order to give it new biological properties,” says Arlov.

Arlov and his colleagues at SINTEF and NTNU have now succeeded in modifying the alginate so that it acts as a form of scaffold on which the cells can grow. “The cells’ natural scaffold, called an extracellular matrix, is made up of collagen and special types of carbohydrates, and it is these that break down in persons suffering from arthrosis,” explains Arlov.

Almost four years ago, Arlov was contacted by a team from the ETH Zürich technology institute in Switzerland. They had encountered his doctorate studies because they were working with a similar project for the international football federation FIFA, which is very interested in opportunities to repair cartilage in injured footballers’ knees.

FIFA has now abandoned the project, but SINTEF and the Swiss team have continued to work together and their results have recently attracted worldwide attention.

“In our laboratories we have been using brown seaweeds as our raw material,” says Arlov. “The reason for this is that seaweed alginate can form a gel that is suitable as a cell growth medium because it is similar to the cells’ natural growth environment,” he says.

But alginate cannot in itself stimulate cell growth, and this is why the researchers have been trying to make chemical modifications. They achieve this by combining sulphate, which is characteristic of the carbohydrates that occur in natural cartilage tissue. Sulphate allows the alginates to act as receptors for several key signal molecules that the cells separate out to enable them to “communicate with each other.”

The cells’ local environment is thus vital to their growth and normal function. In simple terms, we can say that these new alginates imitate nature and act to provide the cells with a message to survive, divide, and generally behave as cartilage tissue cells should.

“Using this approach, we’ve succeeded in getting the cartilage cells to survive and divide in vitro – in glass dishes in the lab,” says Arlov.

While SINTEF in Norway is manufacturing the cell growth medium, the research team in Zürich is studying the cell cultures.

“We freeze dry the material we produce and send it in powdered form to Switzerland by post,” says Arlov.

When it arrives, the sulphated alginate is dissolved in water and mixed with cells. Calcium is then added to form a gel that keeps the cells in place.


The results from Switzerland have been very successful, not least because the cells produced have also demonstrated that they have an anti-inflammatory effect.

This is turn has reduced the impact of so-called oxidative stress, which contributes towards accelerating the degradation of cartilage tissue. This positive effect increased with increasing sulphate content in the alginate.

The next step is to test the new materials and the lab-manufactured cartilage tissue on mice.

“Our hope is that one day we will be able to use this technology to arrest the development of arthrosis and regenerate lost cartilage tissue,” says Arlov.

Explore further:
Treating arthritis with algae

More information:
Anne Kerschenmeyer et al. Anti-oxidant and immune-modulatory properties of sulfated alginate derivatives on human chondrocytes and macrophages, Biomater. Sci. (2017). DOI: 10.1039/c7bm00341b

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles