Regenerative therapy for sports injuries leads the cartilage repair market

The 2022 World Cup is approaching. Live trackers have been deployed to highlight the total number of cases and names that will miss the tournament in Qatar due to injuries. As one of the most popular sports in the world, the incidence of football-related injuries is high, and the prevalence of cartilage lesions among football players is higher than that of the general population. Cartilage repair procedures aim to regenerate or replace joint cartilage to reduce joint pain and prevent the development of arthritis.

Cartilage repair interventions can occur earlier in the joint damage spectrum and provide an opportunity for patients to delay or completely avoid the need for total joint replacement surgery. The goal is to completely restore the damaged meniscus, either by stimulating the body’s intrinsic healing response or by replacing or repairing the damaged tissue. There are several approaches used to treat chondrogenic lesions (cartilage damage) of the joints, including injections of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), extracellular matrix transplantation, transplantation of healthy tissue, and myelostimulation (microprocessing). According to GlobalData analysis, the cartilage repair market is expected to reach $2 billion by 2030, led by the healthy tissue transplant segment.

North America accounts for the largest share of the total cartilage repair market. An increasing number of cases of cartilage damage due to active participation in sports, along with significant investments in new therapies and approved procedures for treatment is fueling the growth of the cartilage repair market. The American Orthopedic Association for Sports Medicine reports more than 3.5 million injuries requiring medical intervention in youth sports each year. In addition, the United States will have more than 10 million diagnosed prevalent cases of symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to a GlobalData analysis. With the increasing number of patients, the cartilage repair market is expected to increase strongly in the United States.

The market is mainly driven by the improvement of regenerative therapy. Historically, regenerative approaches focused on culturing tissue, often from a cadaver or from the patients themselves, but more recently, there has been a push to provide specialized stem cell-based therapies to specifically regenerate a patient’s damaged or diseased tissue. Third-generation or matrix-linked autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) has been developed within the last 10 years. For example, MACI from Vericel is the first FDA-approved product to offer autologous chondrocytes cultured on a porcine collagen membrane. It can be grown through a generally simpler process than previous generations of ACI which required suturing a collagen graft. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, studied 2010 patients who had ACI between 20120 and 2020. They found a higher rate of ACI in 2017-2019 than in 2014-2016, while the rate of re-operation was lower. Reflecting the growing trend of ACI’s actions, the company reported MACI revenue reaching nearly $130 million in 2022, nearly tripling since its launch in 2017.

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