Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - JOIN (ED)T (Joined education for tissue engineering: A multidisciplinary approach to regenerate joints)

Joint deficiencies due to diseases like osteoarthritis, i.e. a chronic inflammatory process which degrades the joint's cartilage and subchondral bone, are a common cause for disability. They are often associated with extreme pain, a reduction in joint mobility and loss of function of the joint. Osteoarthritis is the number one cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain and mobility disability in elderly populations worldwide. Of the 1 million patients diagnosed with articular cartilage, i.e. a small piece of tissue covering the distal ends of bones and is responsible for smooth bone movement in the joint, defects each year, less than 5 % are treated with current therapies, resulting in an economic burden which is estimated to exceed 200 million annually. Moreover, the worldwide market for joint replacement materials is estimated at a staggering 5 billion and is expected to grow exponentially due to the aging of the population and the change in life style. Because of this huge burden for the individual patient and, socioeconomically, for the society at a large, there is a large unmet need for novel joint repair strategies.

Tissue engineering for total joint replacement is expected to result in breakthrough technology that could reduce the shortcomings of existing technologies. However, these breakthroughs would only be realised in a joint, multidisciplinary approach covering all relevant aspects in joint repair. The major aim of the JOIN (ED)T project was therefore to develop new knowledge on joint repair strategies and contribute to the development of a treatment for degenerative bone and cartilage diseases, such as osteoarthritis.

Within the project, this aim was realised by recruiting young research fellows who were trained in the above mentioned research area. The major training aim of the project was to provide high quality interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international training for nine young research fellows, thereby contributing to the development of a new generation of multidisciplinary researchers, fully able to work within the field of tissue engineering. A detailed description of the achievements of the individual partners and the consortium as a whole could be found in the submitted project reports. As it could be deduced from these detailed descriptions, the JOIN (ED)T consortium generated considerable novel knowledge in all areas relevant for total joint tissue engineering as evidenced by a considerable number of abstracts presented at national and international scientific meetings as well as at the first peer reviewed papers in leading scientific journals in the field of tissue engineering.

This number was expected to grow in the coming year as most papers would be written and published after the completion of the relevant PhD thesis. The JOIN (ED)T consortium furthermore succeeded in training the recruited fellows using both common mandatory training programs focussed on theory, translation of theory in practice and on techniques relevant for exploring novel concepts in tissue engineering for total joint replacement. A detailed description of the common mandatory training programs of the project consortium as well as the individual training programs at the participating institutes was provided in the programme's final training activity report. To enlighten the multidisciplinary, cross-borders approach fellows actively participated in an exchange programme between the participating JOIN (ED)T consortium members. Eight out of nine fellows were anticipated to receive a PhD based on this training program and become future scientific leaders that would contribute towards the creation of knowledge in the field of joint repair improving European healthcare, specifically through early and better treatment.

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