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Cell biology

How we turn 2% cell volume into 100% quality

Hyaline articular cartilage is a cell impoverished tissue Its cell volume contributes only around 1 to 3% of the total volume of cartilage. The main components of the cartilage substance – collagen Type-II and aggrecan – are produced by the chondrocyte and are of key importance due to their extraordinary biomechanical properties.

To achieve a high-quality reconstruction outcome, transplanted cartilage cells must therefore be capable of synthesizing these matrix components. If chondrocytes are cultivated in cell culture for the purposes of cell multiplication, they can lose their cartilage specific qualities, depending on the method and duration of cultivation. This process, also known as “dedifferentiation”, is also associated with the ongoing loss of synthesis capability for cartilage-specific matrix proteins. In this state, the dedifferentiated chondrocytes takes on the properties of fibroblast-like cells, which mainly produce collagen Type-I. Type 1 collagen in healthy hyaline cartilage, however, is not a component of cartilage's basic structure and is at most present in greater amounts in articular cartilage which has been changed by arthrosis, or biomechanicallly inferior replacement (fibre) cartilage.

Using the isolation and cultivation procedure developed by TETEC, it is possible to cultivate sufficient cells with cartilage-specific metabolic performance from joint cartilage. The optimized cells cultivated using this procedure also show high metabolic performance for collagen Type-II, aggrecan and cartilage-relevant growth factors such as BMP-2 (bone morphogenic protein-2), without the use of controversial genetic methods. Colagen Type-II and aggrecan are the most important matrix proteins of the hyaline cartilage.

In a comparative study, conducted by a research group independent of TETEC, into the biological properties of various support-based ACT procedures available in Europe, NOVOCART 3D® emerged as the only product to contain largely highly differentiated (i.e. high quality) cartilage cells. Similarly, impressive properties have been demonstrated for the hydrogel used in the manufacture of NOVOCART® Inject and NOVOCART® Disc.