Cartilage – the connective tissue that provides a smooth, lubricated surface between joints in the body – is a structural marvel, but its limited capacity for self-repair complicates injury treatment. To boost the healing process, researchers have long been keen to find new cell-based therapies, and have identified cartilage as a promising candidate for tissue engineering.

 

“This idea was supported by the apparent morphological simplicity of cartilage – a tissue composed of a single cell type, namely chondrocytes,” explains Wojciech Święszkowski, a biomaterials expert based at Warsaw University of Technology.

 

His team – which includes Andrea Barbetta and a group of chemists at Sapienza University of Rome, and specialists in stem-cell research at Oslo University Hospital directed by Jan Brinchmann – is helping to advance cartilage regeneration through the development of 3D-printed biomimetic hydrogel scaffolds.