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Soon no more joint problems thanks to crocodiles?
Many people in older age suffer from arthritis or joint problems. Researchers have now found that crocodiles appear to hold the key to treating joint injuries and arthritis.
Central Queensland University scientists found in their current investigation that crocodiles could improve the treatment of joint injuries and arthritis. Can crocodiles really hold the key to converting human stem cells into cartilage? The experts are convinced of it. This cartilage could then be used to treat joint injuries and arthritis.
Healing cartilage is a big challenge
A small team of researchers worked to perfect a process that extracts valuable growth factors from crocodile cartilage and removes proteins that trigger an immune response in humans. This process then creates a substance that can convert its own human adult stem cells from adipose tissue or bone marrow to cartilage, explains the study author Dr. Padraig Strappe from Central Queensland University. The doctors hope that such an operation will promote the repair of cartilage. Healing cartilage is a major challenge for older populations, the doctors add.
Cartilage explants from the 3D printer?
After crocodile cartilage fluid has been added to adult stem cells, a 3D printer is used to biologically print cartilage explants. Eventually, these can be injected or implanted into damaged human joints. For example, if you have a traumatic injury to the joint, especially the knee, you have a tear or fissure, and there is no endogenous repair system for such problems because cartilage has no blood supply, explains Dr. Strampe according to ABC News.
New technology could replace arthroscopic treatment
With 3D printing, we can mimic holes or gaps so that the orthopedist could possibly fill such a gap with a small cartilage explant to repair the joint, the expert explains. This technology could potentially replace the arthroscopic treatment that many patients with cartilage injuries are currently undergoing. Doctors are looking for long-term cartilage repair so people with inflamed joints can return to work and exercise much faster and long-term effects can be avoided.
Cartilage from the crocodile chest is particularly interesting
A crocodile has very large joints, so it takes a lot of cartilage to keep moving, says Dr. Stramp. The cartilage around the crocodile's chest is particularly rich in so-called proteoglycans and is therefore particularly interesting for scientists.
Where does the crocodile cartilage come from?
The Koorana Crocodile Farm team actually produces crocodile skins for export to Italian fashion houses and meat for the Australian market. Any crocodile cartilage that was left over was collected and frozen as freshly as possible by the doctors. Of course, the owners of the crocodile farm didn't want to produce any waste either. The collaboration of the farm with the research team of Dr. Strampe extremely beneficial for both sides. The bones of the crocodiles are sold to a dog food manufacturing company, the same thing happens to the intestines. Accessories such as back scratches are produced from the tail ends and feet of the crocodiles.
Technology needs to be developed
The research team is currently focused on maintaining funding for the project and sparking interest from biotech companies that could potentially develop and market this technology. (as)