Clark Hung, PhD and James Cook, DVM, PhD

Principal Investigators

Clark Hung, PhD

Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University

James Cook, DVM, PhD

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Clark Hung, PhD, (left)
and James Cook, DVM, PhD

Engineered osteochondral allograft for knee cartilage

Cartilage loss leading to osteoarthritis (OA) is common, affecting an estimated 27 million Americans age 25 and above. The direct medical costs of OA are estimated at $28.6 billion per year. Osteochondral allografts (OCA) are often used to treat issues arising from OA but their use is limited by their short shelf life (~30 days). Once OA becomes severe a total joint replacement becomes necessary to prevent debilitating pain. The availability of an effective early treatment of OA could reduce the need for joint replacement and allow patients to maintain active lives.

In a joint project between the University of Missouri and Columbia University, the principal investigators are developing an off the shelf, single-surgery cartilage restoration product that will allow high-function outcomes in younger, active patients. ECHON is a bi-layered construct of engineered cartilage integrated with an underlying porous substrate cultured under defined conditions so as to promote development of functional properties that are similar to native OCA. This bio-hybrid graft is a venture into regenerative medicine that is potentially suitable for repair of both focal cartilage defects and entire articular surfaces. The team has successfully translated their patented graft fabrication technology from a bovine model to canine preclinical models of regenerative cartilage surgery.

As the next step toward human clinical use, the researchers will now prepare ECHON constructs using human chondrocytes and assess their in vivo performance in an established animal model.

Funded in 2014