Scientists at Bristol University have managed to grow a "living bandage" from a patient's own stem cells in a bid to heal a common sporting knee injury.
Every year, many people suffer tears to the meniscal cartilage, which acts as a shock absorbing cushion between the bones of the upper and lower leg.
Many are men and women in their twenties and thirties and the tears are frequently the result of twisting the leg during jogging, football, rugby, horse riding or skiing.
Attempts made to sew together ripped meniscal cartilage today are often unsuccessful and can result in sportsmen spending a long time off the pitch undergoing rehabilitation.
Many sportsmen opt to have the tissue removed. Removal of the loose cartilage allows the athletes to recover but it leaves bones in the knees exposed and osteoarthritis may develop.
Now, in the latest study, boffins have shown that they can heal cartilage tissue in a laboratory with stem cells taken from a patient's own bone marrow.
To make their claims happen, the research team used the cells to coat a sponge-like scaffold, made from collagen (a fibrous protein) and placed it inside the tear in the cartilage. The stem cells pulled the two pieces of torn cartilage together.
The team, led by Anthony Hollander, professor of rheumatology and tissue engineering, will now test out the treatment on their first patients.
"The stem cells knit across the two sides of the lesion and cause a reuniting of the two sides. We hope that in the patient we can reunite the cartilage in a strong enough way to heal the wound completely,"Times Online quoted the expert, as saying.