Chip which is of the coin size in which cartilage is cultivated; and later subjected to mechanical stress so that it produces the effects of osteoarthritis (OA). Such an extraordinary result is achieved at the Politecnico di Milano Laboratory MiMic (Microfluidic and Biomimetic Microsystems); by Marco Rasponi from the Milan-based campus, the study’s coordinator alongside Andrea Barbero; from the University Hospital of Basel. Study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Not only did it produce the revolutionary chip but, while the tiny device was undergoing experimentation; the study also demonstrated that the mechanical hyperstimulation of cartilage seems to be enough to induce Osteoarthrosis-related pathology; without having to turn to administering inflammatory molecules; as was common practice up until now. Indeed, appropriate compression of the cartilaginous tissue can induce typical symptoms of OA: inflammation, hypertrophy and an acceleration of degenerative processes.

Mechanisms of pharmacological treatments

Therefore, in the cartilage “on a chip” an ideal environment created; in which to test the effectiveness and mechanisms of pharmacological treatments; shortening the timeframes and costs of experimentation while also reducing the need for animal testing. Osteoarthrosis is the most common among musculoskeletal pathologies. Over the age of sixty, 10% of men and 20% of women will suffer from its effects; numbers which unfortunately set to increase due to the current rate of population aging.

However, despite this trend, patients find themselves facing a complete lack of pharmacological therapy; known as DMOADs (Disease modifying Osteoarthritis Drugs): pharmaceuticals, that is; which are capable of not only alleviating the symptoms but also halting or reversing the degenerative processes. In fact, currently the only valid options are palliative treatment or surgery.

Entire joint on a chip