MyJoint - The Biologic Joint Replacement Project

Grow Your Own Parts!


A world-leading European research team is building on its past achievements in the field to grow replacement human joints within the patients that will use them. The concept of using a person’s own body as a “bioreactor” to make replacement parts has the potential to transform medical practice and restore the quality of millions of lives. Initial work on animal models should lead to full scale human trials. 
MYJOINT is a pioneering project to grow individually shaped joint-like structures within the muscles of patients with arthritis. The new joints will then be removed and transplanted to replace the arthritic joints they have been designed to repair.
The project consortium includes the first group in the world to grow a new jaw bone in the back of a cancer patient to replace his own surgically-removed bone. This has given Europe a valuable lead in one of the most exiting initiatives in modern medicine.
The partners now plan to build on that previous success by developing further techniques to use patients as “living bioreactors” to grow replacement parts for themselves. The great advantage of this endocultivation concept is that it can avoid the problems of rejection and poor incorporation of engineered foreign materials within patients.
The basic technique developed by the MYJOINT project may ultimately be used to grow a range of more complex organs in the future. This is a project, therefore, which has the potential to be highly significant for the future well-being of large numbers of people, both in Europe, and worldwide. It may herald the day when we really do grow the replacement parts we need to fix ourselves.
Three steps
The MYJOINT consortium brings academic expertise in medicine, biotechnology, materials science, engineering and computing. This multidisciplinarity is essential to tackle the many challenges involved.
The project intends to develop a procedure that can be broken down into three main steps.
Parts for the millions
At present, replacement joints are usually made of solid titanium or stainless steel and have a finite life span. A successful MYJOINT project would develop the techniques needed to replace these artificial joints with natural ones engineered from the patients’ own cells. This would mean that the operations needed to replace artificial joints, could be completely avoided. This will not only be much more convenient for the patients, but will also avoid considerable health-care costs.
Arthritis and back pain affect most people at some stage of their life, and many millions of Europeans will need an artificial replacement joint to regain their quality of life and remain economically productive citizens.
There are also huge scientific benefits on offer. MYJOINT will build on existing European expertise in this field and keep Europe at the forefront of technology that seems sure to become increasingly widespread and versatile in future.

 

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