1 Medicine, UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, London, UK
2 Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust Hospital, London, UK
Cartilage is an important tissue found in a variety of anatomical locations. Damage to cartilage is particularly detrimental, owing to its intrinsically poor healing capacity. Current reconstructive options for cartilage repair are limited, and alternative approaches are required. Biomaterial science and Tissue engineering are multidisciplinary areas of research that integrate biological and engineering principles for the purpose of restoring premorbid tissue function. Biomaterial science traditionally focuses on the replacement of diseased or damaged tissue with implants. Conversely, tissue engineering utilizes porous biomimetic scaffolds, containing cells and bioactive molecules, to regenerate functional tissue. However, both paradigms feature several disadvantages. Faced with the increasing clinical burden of cartilage defects, attention has shifted towards the incorporation of Nanotechnology into these areas of regenerative medicine.
Searches were conducted on Pubmed using the terms “cartilage”, “reconstruction”, “nanotechnology”, “nanomaterials”, “tissue engineering” and “biomaterials”. Abstracts were examined to identify articles of relevance, and further papers were obtained from the citations within.
The content of 96 articles was ultimately reviewed. The literature yielded no studies that have progressed beyond in vitro and in vivo experimentation. Several limitations to the use of nanomaterials to reconstruct damaged cartilage were identified in both the tissue engineering and biomaterial fields.
Nanomaterials have unique physicochemical properties that interact with biological systems in novel ways, potentially opening new avenues for the advancement of constructs used to repair cartilage. However, research into these technologies is in its infancy, and clinical translation remains elusive.
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* Address correspondence to this author at the University College London, Centre for Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine, UCL Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, London, UK; Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 2000; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org