Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people over the age of 60. It is a degenerative disease of the joints, which causes progressive articular cartilage and bone damage. Pain, which can become chronic and potentially disabling, has a devastating impact on the quality of life of patients. Patients’ mobility is reduced as the disease progresses and, since cartilage does not heal or regenerate, prostethic joints are required in some cases. "My father had osteoarthritis and was in a lot of pain,” says Riccardo Gottardi, an Italian researcher currently doing a Ri.MED Fellowship Postdoctoral Program at the University of Pittsburgh. “The pain was unbearable and forced him to undergo a double hip replacement and prosthetic surgery of the knee. After that, I decided that I wanted to go beyond diagnostics and find a way to translate research into clinical practice for the good of patients." Riccardo Gottardi currently works at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, directed by Professpr Rocky Tuan, pending construction of the Ri.MED Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center in Sicily, where he will work as principal investigator. One of the main obstacles to understanding the mechanisms of osteoarthritis, and to the search for news drugs to restore cartilage, is that cartilage interacts with other joint tissues, in particular bone tissue, and cannot be analyzed separately. Gottardi’s research team has developed an innovative in vitro model for generating engineered cartilage tissue. They have used human cells to generate a high number of identical composite tissues, a mixture of vascularized and bone tissues that reproduces the exact natural human joint model. The study had two main goals: understand how cartilage interacts with other joint tissues, in particular bones, and develop new therapies to stop or reverse disease progression. The procedure developed by the team, which uses human cells to replicate native tissues, is the first of its kind, and is currently patent-pending. In addition, this model is more accurate in predicting effects on humans than animal testing. The research team has started collaborations with companies and research groups interested in using the model for research on other articular cartilage diseases. Dr. Gottardi presented this study in March at the Annual Meeting of the Orthopedic Research Society, which took place in Florida, and is the most prestigious world forum for the dissemination of results in the field of musculoskeletal research.
osteoarthritis, in vitro model, engineered cartilage, degenerative disease, translational research, Riccardo Gottardi, Fondazione Ri.MED, University of Pittsburgh, Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center, Sicily, Orthopedic Research Society
Italy, United States