Very often a gradual degeneration of a cartilage, resulting from a pathological process, does not create inconvenience to a person, until the cartilage is finally lost and the bone heads start contacting each other, provoking a severe pain. The scientists used carbon nanotubes – material, possessing high-strength and conductive properties. Currently carbon nanotubes are widely studied in many diverse fields, including medicine.
Webster and his colleagues have detected, that due to their surface properties the carbon nanotubes form a matrix, facilitating adhesion of chondroblasts (cells, producing cartilaginous tissue). At the microscopic level the surface of the matrix is ‘shaggy’ and looks like a natural extracellular cartilaginous matrix.
Earlier research used materials with a smoother surface at the nanolevel. These could not adhere to the injured region very tightly and didn’t ensure sufficient adhesion of chondroblasts. Apart from this researchers have shown, that weak electrical pulses can stimulate cell fission. However, the mechanism of this process remains uncertain. Most likely, electrical pulses stimulate a more intense entry of calcium ions, playing an important role in the proliferation of chondroblasts, to cells.
The team intends to put its development into clinical practice. Apart from the cartilage regeneration the researchers are working on the methods of bone tissue reconstruction – last year results of their work were published in ‘Nanotechnology’ magazine. The principle of bone tissue reconstruction is similar – osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) are inclined to adhesion to carbon nanotubes and to proliferation in response to weak electrical pulses.