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The osteochondral defects involving both the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone are very common but damaged articular cartilage has very little capacity for spontaneous healing. If such defects are left untreated, ultimately lead to premature end-stage arthritis. Although some studies have achieved success in repairing small cartilage defects, no accepted method for complete repair of osteochondral defects exists. Because of the extremely different nature of cartilage and bone, a bi-layer osteochondral substitute could be a promising solution for osteocartilage defect treatment.

The aim of our research is to synthesise and characterise a bi-layered osteochondral substitute made of a collagen part (corresponding to articular cartilage) on a hydroxyapatite (HA) support (corresponding to subchondral bone). The HA/bone part of the graft is produced by a polyurethane sponge replication method while the collagen/cartilage part of the graft is developed by pouring equine type I collagen slurry on the sintered HA foams and then freeze drying the substitute.

Since many studies have suggested that a porous scaffold in itself is insufficient to induce rapid cartilage regeneration at the initial stages of cartilage healing, growth factor-loaded microspheres of chitosan will be incorporate into the scaffold in order to substantially improve cartilage-forming efficacy. Chitosan is a natural polysaccharide which consists of b (1_4) linked d-glucosamine residues and it has been reported to be nontoxic, bioabsorbable and to promote wound healing.

Moreover, our partners from “San Raffaele Hospital” in Milan are carrying out tests to evaluate the capability of chondrocytes to colonize the collagen part of the bi-layer substitute and to generate new structured tissue.


For any information write to Alessandro Sannino



University of Salento   Facoltà di Ingengeria   Department of Engineering for Innovation
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