The hydrogel that was developed at the University of Twente, for repairing damaged cartilage tissue, will be tested on humans for the first time, in a clinical trial. The gel, which is being further developed by the spinoff company Hy2Care, will be tested for its abilities to prevent arthrosis, by repairing cartilage that was damaged by, for example a sports injury. Patients will be selected for this trial by the University Medical Centre in Utrecht.
Arthrosis, or osteoarthritis, is a growing problem highly influencing the quality of life. It is painful, highly disabling and can make an artificial joint necessary. The cartilage in a joint like the knee or hip gets damaged, or even disappears, making the joint painful and less flexible. This may even lead to the ‘bone on bone’ situation, without any of the the elastic cartilage inbetween.
Knee keyhole surgery
For years now, Professor Marcel Karperien and his team did research on a hydrogel, with support of Dutch Arthritis Society (‘ReumaNederland’), that can replace damaged cartilage via keyhole surgery and local injection of the gel. Subsequently, it will attach to the healthy cartilage around the damage and restore its function. The research focused on application in knees. After several steps, like research in a laboratory setting and promising results with the knees of horses, it is now time to test it on a group of a few tens of people. The company Hy2Care, of which Marcel Karperien is one of the founders, together with the orthopedic surgeons of the University Medical Center Utrecht collaborate in this.
For the selection of candidates, the nature and size of the damage is important, among other things. The gel will need to interfere with surrounding healthy cartilage, so in advanced situations in which there is few healthy cartilage left, it will not work.