Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease that affects the joints, resulting in pain, movement impairment and joint failure. Animal models used for OA research and drug development studies can cause suffering to animals and are limited in their translation to the human disease. Preclinical OA studies use up to 40 animals per study, with the total number of animals used by a pharmaceutical company per year being in excess of 700.
To answer this Challenge, a multidisciplinary team led by Professor Anne Dickinson from Alcyomics Ltd proposes to create co-cultures of the human osteoarthritic joint using cell printing and microfluidics. During Phase 1, the team developed a cell printer that was able to reliably deposit thousands of cells per second. They successfully co-cultured printed cells which were representative of the different parts of the human joint and showed that cell phenotype and viability could be maintained over 72 hours. In Phase 2, the co-cultures were further characterised and a 3D model of human cartilage incorporating immortalised osteoblasts and chondrocytes was developed. A range of chemical or mechanical effects was used to activate the disease process and drugs were introduced to evaluate their ability to stop or reverse osteoarthritis.
Full details about this CRACK IT Challenge can be found on the CRACK IT website.