Project PDC2021-121658-C21 funded by:

CARTIGEL (Bioactive microgels as injectable support biomaterial for the regeneration of articular cartilage) is a two-year project funded by the 2021 Spanish State R+D+I Program Oriented to the Challenges of Society – funded by the European Union – NextGenerationEU programme. It has 2 sub-projects led by research groups in Valencia. The sub-project developed at CBIT is coordinated by Prof José Luis Gómez Ribelles and Prof Gloria Gallego Ferrer.

Articular cartilage has a limited capacity for natural regeneration, and the lesions eventually degenerate into arthrosis. Currently, clinical strategies only allow an initial improvement of the patient, as they do not lead to long-term solutions. When applying these strategies, the neoformed tissue does not keep the structure and composition of hyaline cartilage. Furthermore, chondrocytes do not maintain the expected fenotype.

The project CARTIGEL is focused on the development of a new clinical strategy based on tissue engineering for the regeneration of articular cartilage. Our approach consists of an injectable biomaterial, called a microgel, consisting of two types of microspheres:

  • Synthetic, rigid microspheres
  • Natural, gel-textured microspheres soaked with the patient’s platelet rich plasma (PRP)

The defect site is filled with the microgel, which generates an adequate biomechanical environment for pluripotent stem cells to differentiate into chondrocytes. PRP-soaked microspheres release growth factors that induce the migration of said cells to the defect site.

The microgel system was developed, characterized, and patented in a previous project. In this project, we aim to advance in the translation to the clinic of this biomaterial. In this sense, the specific objectives of the sub-project developed at CBIT are:

  • Develop an equipment that allows the obtention of PRP-soaked microspheres at the intervention site
  • Produce implant-ready biomaterials for an animal model
  • Characterize the mechanical properties of the regenerated cartilage in the animal model
  • Determine the steps needed to translate our results into industrial production