Cartilage Repair: Bridging the Gap
With the era of regenerative medicine upon us, fueled in part by the Obama administration's lifting of the ban on government funding for stem cell research, advancements in biological approaches to orthopedic joint restoration are in the forefront. Most orthopedic surgeons believe that the future treatment of musculoskeletal problems no longer lies in replacing joints with metallic implants but in the development of curative therapies involving cells, growth factors, and other bioactive agents capable of regenerating bone, cartilage, and other joint structures. Although such products are still in the early stages of development, there has been a recent surge of interest in this area. Based on the wealth of new technologies presented at this year's American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting held recently in Las Vegas, it is clear that stakeholders in this industry are in hot pursuit of this opportunity, which could one day be measured in the billions of dollars.
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This month we cover MxBiodevices LLC, which has completed two clinical trials of its injectable wound repair scaffold that is injected just under the wound surface to provide a healing structure; and Histogenics Corp., which is in a Phase III clinical trial in articular cartilage repair.
The musculoskeletal sector continues to be bogged down by the economic downturn, and particularly hard hit is the industry’s largest segment: the $13 billion total joint market. Companies are now scouting out the next technology wave in orthopedics, and the record attendance at the recent International Cartilage Repair Society meeting may be one indication of where the action will be for some time to come.
The stem cell market is beginning to show signs of significant revenue growth ahead, a development fueled by research in a variety of disease categories, some of which has already produced accepted therapies. In February, about three dozen firms gathered at the 5th Annual Stem Cell Summit, where participants showcased their technology in the hopes of securing financing.