[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/254646]
Brief description The internal structure of articular cartilage is critical to its biomechanical function. Cartilage is one of the most intricate and difficult tissues to examine in-vivo. Maintenance of its functional characteristics depends heavily of the internal microstructure of the tissue, while conventional arthroscopy can only give a view of the surface and provides no information on the internal structure. Biopsy examination can also destroy the integrity of the tissue, making it impossible to concurrently examine the structure and function of the tissue. The structure-function relationship is thus critical to the study and the advancement of clinical treatment techniques for cartilage disorders. Osteoarthritis is characterized by severe disruption to the cartilage matrix. The emergence of autologous chondrocyte implant (ACI) therapy as a method for repairing cartilage defects has further increased interest in clinical techniques for the examination of cartilage structure and function. The development of confocal microscopy facilitates internal examination of loaded tissue for the first time, enabling direct examination of the association between structure and function of the tissue. A prototype confocal arthroscope has been developed to facilitate clinical examination of cartilage structure. This, in turn, allows the functional characteristics of the tissue to be deduced. Cartilage exhibits little intrinsic repair making biopsies undesirable. Thus, with respect to cartilage in particular, the developed technologies promise to enable examination to a level of detail which was previously impossible. The current prototype arthroscope has demonstrated the feasibility of a genuine clinical instrument. This grant application seeks funds to conduct initial clinical trials in order to gain sufficient practical feedback to enable design and construction of a clinically ready system.
Funding Amount $AUD 376,320.00
Funding Scheme NHMRC Development Grants