A research project on cartilage regeneration, coordinated by INEB and in which UOULU and UULM participate together with 7 other partners from seven countries, was recently financed by the European Commission with 5.5 million euro. Named RESTORE, the project aims to create 3D matrices incorporating smart nanomaterials to repair knee cartilage lesions thereby reducing or delaying osteoarthritis onset, which currently affects 242 million people worldwide.

These matrices, explains Meriem Lamghari, researcher at INEB and the coordinator of this European consortium, “are tailored so that they can be implanted and fill the injury site as well as respond to the knee joint mechanical forces. Moreover, they contain smart nanoparticles with regenerative, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. The nanoparticles with regenerative properties can, whenever necessary, be remotely activated using non-invasive methods”. For that the project’s team will develop a knee brace equipped with sensors capable of activating the nanoparticles present in the implanted matrix.

RESTORE emerges following constructive discussions between orthopaedic surgeons, tissue engineers, materials researchers and cellular biologists to answer pressing clinical needs.

“We are proposing two matrices, one based on a polymer already clinically tested in the veterinary sector, namely in large animals, for large knee cartilage lesions; and another matrix generated using bioprinting technology, composed by cartilage cells of human origin to which we will also incorporate the smart nanoparticles. This matrix is more adequate for small lesions,” summarizes Meriem Lamghari, project coordinator and researcher at the INEB.

This consortium, which will develop the project during the next 44 months articulates with MIRACLE, in which INEB, UOULU and UULM are also involved, centred in the diagnosis of the knee joint degeneration.