The treatment of cartilage injuries is one of the most difficult challenges facing orthopaedic surgeons. Clinicians and researchers at UCSF are combining forces to establish a multidisciplinary center to meet this challenge. "The UCSF Cartilage Repair and Regeneration Center is unlike any other in the region," says UCSF orthopaedic surgeon Hubert Kim, MD, PhD.
The team members plan to exploit their collective expertise in imaging cartilage repair, tissue engineering and stem cell biology to develop the most advanced center of its kind. "Our center not only provides patients with the most advanced treatments available for cartilage injuries, but also conducts research that will lead to better treatment in the future," Kim says.
One area of emphasis at the center will be the careful evaluation and long-term follow-up of patients undergoing cartilage repair. "We, as a profession, have not done a good enough job of evaluating the results of cartilage repair procedures," Kim says. "It is difficult and expensive to do properly, but it is absolutely critical that someone does it well."
Unfortunately, no current treatment for cartilage injuries can restore normal cartilage structure and function. However, recent advancements in the field of cartilage and stem cell research may provide a roadmap to this elusive goal. Research team members Jeffrey Lotz, PhD, Richard Schneider, PhD, Ralph Marcucio, PhD, and Tamara Alliston, PhD, are studying the signals that cause stem cells to become cartilage cells. Additional research is focusing on approaches to limit cartilage degeneration after trauma, and on ways to use enhanced adult stem cells to regenerate cartilage.
"It is easy to see why we are so excited by this research," Kim says. "Much of it is just one or two steps away from clinical use. The research being done in this field at UCSF is extraordinary. Our job is to take these research breakthroughs and turn them into better treatments for our patients. This is how translational research is supposed to work, and we're in the ideal place to make it happen.
"We want the community to know that there is a place to send their patients to get the best possible treatment for cartilage injuries."
(This story first appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of UCSF Orthopaedic Surgery News.
MRI Is Key to Understanding Cartilage Health
, June 12, 2007
UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
UCSF Sports Medicine Center