Among all the joints in the human body, the wear and tear that your knees go through as you age is one of the hardest things to manage—unfortunately, knee problems are also terribly common. A particularly notable issues is with osteoarthritis, where the cartilage in the knee joint begins to wear away.
There is no cure for this.
Surgical treatments may help, but only if surgical intervention is made early and the damage to the cartilage is still minor. Of course, there’s also joint replacement surgery, which is the only solution available to people who already have major cartilage damage, and there’s no guarantee that it will last.
Indeed, artificial joints are known to last for only a couple of decades, which makes it particularly tricky when someone young needs to undergo the procedure.
While the future for anyone needing joint replacement surgery looks bleak, advancements in technology introduced by an Israeli startup seem to have potential. By 2017, the company, CartiHeal Ltd., is hoping to introduce its cell-free, off-the-shelf cartilage and bone regeneration device.
The device, called Agili-C, is the result of $15 million in funding that was given to the company just last month from blue chip organizations such as Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Elron, Accelmed, Access Medical Ventures, and Peregrine Ventures.
According to the CartiHeal, “The funds will be used to promote ongoing manufacturing scale-up, plan for initial European commercialization in 2017 and expansion of clinical studies to new therapeutic areas.”
This technology might actually be what the rising, aging population needs to maintain their quality of life and be able to stay in the workforce longer. As for the younger generation, reasons such as rising obesity rates and a growing sedentary lifestyle, are prompting them to look into invasive, but nevertheless needed, surgeries to correct the damage it is doing to their joints.
Currently, Agili-C has been implanted in close to 200 patients all over Europe and has already received CE approval.
“The Agili-C implant has demonstrated outstanding ability to reproducibly regenerate hyaline cartilage“, says Mr. Nir Altschuler, Founder & CEO of CartiHeal. “Agili-C enables biological resurfacing of cartilage and its underlying subchondral bone through a tissue regeneration process. The device is suitable for a wide range of pathologies from focal traumatic lesions to moderate stages of osteoarthritis.”
So while we may not have the tech today, the future is looking bright.