CASE STUDIES

A novel, silk-based repair solution for damaged cartilage

Osteoarthritis of the knee joint resulting from damage to the articular cartilage is a major cause of patient suffering and work-related absence. Orthox has developed the FibroFix™ tissue scaffold, capturing the same extreme toughness and resilience as cartilage and which can be targeted for the repair and regeneration of joints such as the knee.

A novel, silk-based repair solution for damaged cartilage

 

 

 

 

The problem
Osteoarthritis of the knee joint resulting from damage to the articular cartilage is a major cause of patient suffering and work-related absence. Ultimately, the only recourse is major surgery to implant a permanent joint replacement. Consequently, surgeons require early intervention, regenerative, meniscal and articular cartilage repair products to meet patient demand.


The technology
Orthox’s lead product, FibroFix™ Meniscus, is targeted at repair and regeneration of the meniscal cartilage in the knee. The current therapy is simply to excise the damaged tissue, with 1.7 million procedures carried out each year. By removing this first line of defence against impact forces, deterioration of the articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the knee joint is accelerated.

Silk has a long and highly successful history as an implantable medical material. Orthox’s FibroFix™ technology is based on silk fibroin, a long chain, structural protein which provides silk fibres with great strength and resilience.

FibroFix™ combines exceptional strength and resilience with a porous architecture and chemical structure similar to fibronectin, an essential component of human cartilage. These properties allow FibroFix™ to act as both an immediate functional replacement for damaged cartilage tissue, and a long term regenerative repair solution.

Orthox extract fibroin from commercial silk fibres, and form it into highly porous fibroin hydrogels, capable of acting as scaffolds for regenerating tissue to grow through. The processing technology used to create these ‘tissue scaffolds’ mimics the techniques spiders use when spinning silk fibroin in their webs. By aligning the fibroin molecules very closely in their fibres, spider silk combines elasticity with great strength, making it one of the toughest, most resilient, materials known. Emulating these processes leads to a high degree of fibroin alignment in FibroFix™ tissue scaffolds, allowing them to capture the same extreme toughness and resilience – essential characteristics of cartilage.

The team

  • Prof Vollrath Oxford Silk Group, Oxford University
  • Prof Ash Blom, Bristol Orthopaedics Department
  • Prof Anita Ignatius, Ulm University

 

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