Sally R. Frenkel, PhD

Professor; Departments of Cell Biology and Dermatology

Cell Biology

Chondrocyte Transplantation, Articular Cartilage Repair





Contact Information

550 First Avenue
Medical Science Building
Floor 6, Room 619
New York, NY 10016

Phone: 212-263-0284

Chondrocyte Transplantation for Articular Cartilage Repair

The aging process and traumatic injuries frequently cause damage to articular cartilage that, if left untreated, can result in arthritic lesions of the joint surface with concomitant loss of function. With current treatment modalities, the resultant repair, typically consisting of fibrocartilage, often degenerates over time to arthritis. The aim of our research is to utilize tissue engineering techniques to develop a method for healing articular cartilage lesions. We successfully treated rabbit cartilage lesions with an implant consisting of rabbit chondrocytes in a collagen matrix carrier. We harvest and grow the rabbit cells in culture and seed them into a collagen bilayer, designed to prevent ingrowth of fibrous tissues into the lesion while acting as a scaffold for transplanted chondrocytes. The engineered collagen/chondrocyte construct is then implanted in articular defects in the rabbit knee.

Extensive mechanical, histological, and biochemical evaluations show that the regenerated cartilage has properties nearly identical to those of the normal cartilage. Furthermore, this neocartilage showed no sign of arthritic deterioration 6 months after implantation. We continue to investigate the use of growth factors to enhance the repair induced by cell transplants, as well as cell-free devices. We have extended our studies to large animal models (dogs, goats) to replicate the clinical situation. Our most recent studies are testing the use of stem cells and gene therapy techniques to regenerate damaged articular surfaces.

Teaching Activities

In my role as Module Director of the Morphological and Developmental Basis of Medicine, I am creating content (with coauthors John Qualter and Victoria Harnik) for an e-book to accompany our interactive dissection program, the Biodigital Human (BDH). The BDH, created by Mr. Qualter with our assistance, is a 3-dimensional "dissectable" human body with enriched content and customizable features, meant to enhance and supplement the laboratory cadaver dissection experience.