The potential of tissue engineering in orthopedics
This article presents models of human phalanges and small joints developed by tissue engineering. Biodegradable polymer scaffolds support growth of osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and tenocytes after implantation of the models in athymic mice. The cell-polymer constructs are vascularized by the host mice, form new bone, cartilage, and tendon with characteristic gene expression and protein synthesis and secretion, and maintain the shape of human phalanges with joints. The study demonstrates critical progress in the design and fabrication of bone, cartilage, and tendon by tissue engineering and the potential of this field for human clinical orthopedic applications.