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Bristol scientists "nose" ahead in exciting new arthritis breakthrough

Press release issued: 14 January 2002

Bristol scientists "nose" ahead in exciting new arthritis breakthrough

A team of Bristol scientists have moved a step closer to developing an exciting medical breakthrough which could have an enormous impact on the UK's one million-plus osteoarthritis sufferers within the next decade.

The team, led by Professor Anthony Hollander, ARC Professor of Rheumatology and Tissue Engineering at Southmead Hospital, are leading the way in developing a new technique called "tissue engineering" using nasal cartilage.

The technique, still at experimental stage, involves removing healthy cartilage from a patient's nose and growing it in the lab. The team will then re-implant the healthy tissue into the damaged area of cartilage to prevent the progression of joint destruction and the development of osteoarthritis.

The work is being funded by long-term support from medical research charity the Arthritis Research Campaign. Now the charity has awarded another grant of £79,233 to Professor Hollander's colleague Dr Wa'el Kafienah for experimental work to find ways of making the implanted tissue grow into the natural joint tissue.

"What we intend to do is to develop Bristol's tissue engineering research programme through to the first-ever clinical trials," explained Professor Hollander. "This is potentially enormously significant to people with osteoarthritis (OA) in that cartilage - generated and grown in the lab from their body's own cells - can be re-implanted into an area of worn cartilage to prevent the progression of joint destruction."

The long-term aim is to use tissue engineering to treat primary OA early with a view to delaying, for some years, the need for a first joint replacement.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition which affects more than one million older people in the UK. It is estimated that 60 per cent of people aged over 64 have some form of OA in at least one joint. Treatment remains unsatisfactory, with many sufferers needing a joint replacement.

Since Professor Hollander's arrival in Bristol in summer 2000, research into arthritis in Bristol has taken on a sharper focus, which will culminate with the planned opening of the Avon Musculoskeletal Biotechnology Institute (AMBI) - a collaboration of musculoskeletal research scientists in Bristol at Southmead Hospital - in July this year.

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Monday, 14-Jan-2002 11:40:04 GMT

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