Science Saturday: Pioneering living donor cartilage transplants

a woman in exercise jogging suit holding her leg and knee area as if in pain after an injury

Mayo Clinic is poised to establish what is believed to be the first-ever living cartilage donor bank to provide a new regenerative option for healing common knee injuries. That donor bank will lay the foundation for living donor musculoskeletal tissue transplants — a first at Mayo Clinic and possibly in the world — to help restore knee function.

Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine supports this work in collaboration with Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine as part of the center’s strategic objective of advancing the practice.

“Some patients have damage in their knee cartilage that I compare to a single large pothole in an otherwise smooth road. So for these patients, we say the perfect thing is to resurface that pothole rather than pull out the entire road and put in a knee replacement,” says Mario Hevesi, M.D., Ph.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic. “A living cartilage transplant could biologically fix that pothole while preserving healthy cartilage and restoring functionality to the native knee.”

Whether it is from an athletic injury, an accidental sprain, or everyday wear and tear, cartilage defects can progress to more generalized joint degeneration. Some people suffer from osteochondritis dissecans, a condition in which bone under the cartilage dies and causes cartilage to break loose. Whatever the cause, cartilage defects are painful and can severely limit mobility.

Read the rest of the article on the Center for Regenerative Medicine blog.


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