Now You Know

Arthritis in Pets
Friday, February 4, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:13 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

What was learned: James Cook, an MU professor of veterinary medicine and surgery, has developed a method of regenerating removed meniscal cartilage in the knees of surgery patients.

How it works: A common cause of arthritis is the surgical removal of torn meniscus cartilage in the knees that normally acts as a shock absorber to the pressures of physical movement.

The torn cartilage is removed because it does not typically heal by itself. The fact that nothing is put in its place after removal commonly means that the knee will deteriorate and the patient will develop osteoarthritis.

Cook, working with DePuy Orthopaedics, developed a treatment using an implanted biomaterial derived from pig intestines which directs tissue to places where it should be growing.

According to the MU News Bureau, the implants have already been tested on more than 300 dogs, and Cook said he was able to grow back an average of 90 percent of removed meniscus in animal trials. The process recently gained Food and Drug Administration approval, and DePuy hopes to offer it to the public after a three- to six-year trial period.

Why it matters: Osteoarthritis, a type in which the surface layer of cartilage in a joint breaks and deteriorates, is the most common form of arthritis.

Results of cartilage deterioration include friction between bones, bone spurs, pain, swelling and loss of movement in joints. Osteoarthritis is also one of the most common causes of physical disability in American adults.

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