(ORDO NEWS) — The robotic joint, which can mimic the natural movement of the human shoulder, has helped create payloads for the cartilage that grows on it.
Tissue engineering technologies are only developing, scientists and physicians are still looking for ways to grow complex three-dimensional structures from living cells in order to someday obtain new organs for transplantation.
So far, such experimental procedures make it possible to obtain from the patient’s cells only relatively simple tissues, such as cartilage, devoid of an internal network of vessels and nerves.
You can even grow a trachea, but with the cartilage of the joints, the replacement of which is so important for many patients, it still cannot be done.
Indeed, for the normal growth of cartilage tissue of the joints and tendons, the cells need a constant and varied load, stretching and flexion.
To ensure these conditions, doctors have long been trying to use automation. Throughout the entire process, special devices continuously either slightly stretch or relax the sample growing in the bioreactor, but even this does not allow obtaining full-fledged cartilage, elastic and durable.
A new approach to this problem is described in an article by researchers from the University of Oxford, published in the journal Nature Communications Engineering .
British scientists have decided to replace conventional devices for stimulating growing cartilage with a more complete anthropomorphic robot.
More precisely, the shoulder joint, which was developed for a humanoid robotic skeleton by Devanthro engineers.
The Roboy design is freely available under an open license, and scientists led by Professor Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy have reproduced it in the lab with only a few improvements to make the joint more closely mimic human natural movements.
In addition, they created elastic bioreactors for growing fibroblasts, basic cartilage cells, and other types of connective tissue.
The cells are placed on resilient plastic substrates stretched between a pair of rigid blocks. Such a reactor, seeded with cells that are continuously supplied with oxygen and nutrients, scientists fixed in an artificial shoulder joint for 14 days.
For half an hour a day, the robot “trained”, making a variety of movements in order to create the necessary loads on the growing tissue.
The authors found that cells grow faster under such conditions than in immobility, and even the profiles of genetic activity in them differ.
Until scientists have conducted a detailed analysis of these differences and cannot prove with facts and figures that the samples grown on the robotic joint are better suited for transplantation, they have left this work for the future.
Nevertheless, Professor Muti’s team believes that they have done an important demonstration of the principle, and now their colleagues in other laboratories of the world can improve the method of growing tissues in elastic bioreactors, on the details of anthropomorphic machines.
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