Meniscus Scaffolds

Meniscus Scaffolds

Ross Hauser, MD

When is comes to the science of stem cells and the meniscus, patients are often confused by what types of treatments are available today and what type of treatments will be available in the future.

Much of the biomedical research these days centers around “scaffolds” and creating some or all of a meniscus in the laboratory for transplantation in a patient.

A scaffold is something that meniscus tissue can grow in whether in your body or in a laboratory.

Building the Bionic Meniscus

One day you will be able to get a bionic meniscus. Not today July 25, 2017. The desire to build a meniscus in a lab dish and the reality of doing so is very, very difficult.

This is seen in a new study where the ability of stem cells to morph or change into cartilage cells and create a platform to which a meniscus can be “grown,” is discussed. But the properties and dynamics of meniscal tissue are challenging and treatment with a “home grown” meniscus may be decades down the road. As the researchers note: “it is difficult to copy the complex internal structure of the meniscus with the technologies available today.”1

In a study from July 2017, doctors in Singapore found that some characteristics of the synthetic meniscus led to elevated contact pressures on the articular cartilage which increases the risk of physiological damage to the articular cartilage.sss

In another study, doctors explored taking meniscal cells and seeding them in a stem cell paste of platform to patch tears in the difficult to treat avascular meniscus tear. Here the doctors found that the stem cells and the meniscus cells in animal studies seemed to create a better home grown meniscus in the laboratory. 2 The potential for tissue engineered meniscus is great. But we also need today’s solutions.

Here is what doctors wrote in Stem Cell Therapy and Research:

A  group of researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan studied surgical alternatives to a torn meniscus. They conducted a study that transplanted mesenchymal stem cell from the tibia of rats to the torn meniscus in each rat. The stem cells were taken from the bone marrow of the tibia, harvested and transplanted into the torn meniscus. The results were promising, showing that mesenchymal stem cells could in fact proliferate and contribute to the healing of menisci. The results were so promising that they concluded “we are confident that the mesenchymal stem cell transplantation will become the new clinical strategy for the treatment for meniscus tears.”4

Stem Cell Scaffolds in our Prolotherapy office

For any cell to proper and proliferate in the human body it must be in an environment to do so.  This environment as it relates to stem cells is called the niche.  The niche is the micro-environment that promotes stem cells to differentiate into new cells and tissues, as well as self-replication. The scaffold is the material or substance upon which the stem cell sits or is supported.

Stem cell technologists are frantically trying to get FDA approval on a myriad of synthetic scaffolds and niches for which stem cells can be implanted and induced to grow. They are feverishly looking for approval on scaffolds for cartilage, meniscus and labrum defects.

First off, if the body was better off with a chunk of plastic in its joint it would already have it.  Synthetic scaffolds are made of different composites and/or plastics (or plastic-like) substances that cells are implanted on. To be fair some of the scaffolds have some natural elements such as peptides, proteins, collagen, adipose and other natural substances.  Sounds good right?  Well, the principle is right, but when I take out a persons’ whole bone marrow, I am also taking with it, the natural niche or microenvironment upon which it lives, as well as the its own natural scaffold.

For any proliferative procedure to be successful, stem cells must be supported so they can proliferate, grow and secrete (synthetize) tissues for repair and replacement or stem cell therapy will not work. The question is would the stem cells that are injected or placed into joints and tissues be best supported by their natural scaffold and niche or something made in a lab by a pharmaceutical company?

The natural stem-cell scaffold and niche controls the physiochemical nature of the environment including pH, ion levels, metabolites, such as ATP and other nutrients, oxygen tension, growth factors, cytokines and as well regulating the substances secreted by other stem cells and neighboring cells. The question begets can a synthetic product do this. The answer is “no” of course.

When a person receives a stem cell procedure at Caring Medical, the natural (body’s own) scaffold and niche is injected along with the cells.  This is the safest and most effective way to optimize the healing and repair ability of a persons’ own stem cells.

1 Lin DD, Picardo NE, Adesida A, Khan WS. Clinical Studies Using Biological and Synthetic Materials for Meniscus Replacement. Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2016 Apr 29. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]
2 Seil R, Becker R. Time for a paradigm change in meniscal repair: save the meniscus!. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy May 2016 Volume 24,Issue 5,pp 1421-1423 [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]
3. Yu H, Adesida AB, Jomha NM. Meniscus repair using mesenchymal stem cells–a comprehensive review. Stem cell research & therapy. 2015 Apr 30;6(1):86. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]
4. Izuta Y, et al. Meniscal repair using bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells: experimental study using green fluorescent protein transgenic rats. The Knee. 12 (2005) 217 – 223. [Pubmed] [Google Scholar]
5. Shriram D, Kumar GP, Cui F, Lee YH, Subburaj K. Evaluating the effects of material properties of artificial meniscal implant in the human knee joint using finite element analysis. Scientific Reports. 2017 Jul 20;7(1):6011. [Pubmed]


Our Facebook Reviews
Our Facebook Reviews
Celebrating 25 years of Prolotherapy! Are you a good Prolotherapy candidate?
How Can We Help You?
First Name:
Last Name:

Enter code:

for your symptoms

Prolotherapy, an alternative to surgery

Were you recommended SURGERY?
Get a 2nd opinion now!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★We pride ourselves on 5-Star Patient Service!Come see why patients travel from all
over the world to visit our clinics.
Current Patients
Become a New Patient

Chicagoland Office
715 Lake St., Suite 600
Oak Park, IL 60301
(708) 393-8266 Phone
(855) 779-1950 Fax
Southwest Florida Office
9738 Commerce Center Ct.
Fort Myers, FL 33908
(239) 303-4069 Phone
(855) 779-1950 Fax Fort Myers, FL Office
We are an out-of-network provider.
© 2017 | All Rights Reserved | Disclaimer
National Prolotherapy Centers specializing in Comprehensive Prolotherapy,
Stem Cell Therapy, and Platelet Rich Plasma.

Meet our Prolotherapy Doctors and check out our Prolotherapy research.