Cartilage repair technology helps ‘Beyoncé’ return to show-jumping
20 May 2016
Dr Tanya Levingstone, Research Fellow and Honorary Research Lecturer in RCSI with thoroughbred filly, Beyoncé
Research from Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) has found that a novel biomaterial that can repair damaged knee cartilage has led to an injured thoroughbred filly, Beyoncé returning to competitive show jumping following implantation of this biomaterial.
This patented multi-layered 3D porous scaffold called ChondroColl, was developed by a team of researchers from the RCSI Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and the AMBER Centre led by Professor Fergal O’Brien. It is composed of layers of collagen, hydroxyapatite and hyaluronic acid, materials native to articular joints, and is designed to direct the body’s own cells to regenerate damaged joints, thus presenting a potential solution that can benefit patients worldwide.
This is the third research paper published in 2016 by the group which has demonstrated the ability of ChondroColl to repair cartilage and joint defects. This most recent study relates to a recent case in University College Dublin’s (UCD) Veterinary Hospital and provided the first clinical use of this scaffold.
The patient, Beyoncé, was a 16 month old thoroughbred filly who had large areas of damage in both left and right stifle (knee) joints as a result of a disease known as osteochondritis dissecans (a joint disorder in which cracks form in the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone). The outcome for such patients is often poor and may lead to euthanasia of the animal in severe cases.
David Stack and Florent David of UCD’s Veterinary Hospital carried out the removal of the unstable osteochondral fragments and subsequently the multi-layered scaffolds were then implanted providing a template for new cartilage and bone to be formed. The procedure was very successful and since surgery, ‘Beyoncé’ has resumed training and will compete in show jumping events in the coming months.
Additional healing assessment research reported for ChondroColl has also received promising results. The first from a short term pilot study was published in Acta Biomaterialia and the second was a long term pre-clinical study, also carried out in conjunction with University College Dublin’s School of Veterinary Medicine, which has demonstrated the ability of the scaffold to heal defects at 12 months in goats. This was recently published in Biomaterials, the leading specialist journal in the field.
“We are delighted with the outcomes from both pre-clinical studies and particularly with the results from the Beyoncé case. Our hope for the future is this technology will benefit human patients and through our spinout company SurgaColl Technologies, this is very close to becoming a reality with first human cases anticipated in the coming months,” said RCSI’s Professor Fergal O’Brien.
ChondroColl repairs articular joints by stimulating host stem cells to regenerate both bone and cartilage, using the composition and architecture of the biomaterial to actively direct tissue formation. The research related to the development and assessment of the technology received funding from Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board.
“Today’s announcement on the new technology demonstrates our track record of pushing the boundaries of science to discover real solutions for people. We will continue to carry out excellent research that has real societal impact. In addition, to improving the lives of thousands of people, this technology could have real applications in the veterinary sector,” said director of AMBER Professor Michael Morris.