Cartilage related diseases are on the top list concerns of the World Health Organization, being the prevention of articular cartilage degeneration a major health matter of which there are few effective solutions. On the other hand, aging, obesity, nutritional deficiencies and physical (in)activity are major problems for the Portuguese society, which are directly associated with a large number of rheumatic disorders. The world is now facing a serious problem with over 250 million being affected with chronic osteoarthritis (OA). With a demographic trend towards the aging population, it is accepted that nowadays society enrolled in a vicious cycle due to the proven relationship between OA and obesity, and the increased prevalence of both.
Therefore, to contribute to these problems resolution, is mandatory to have multidisciplinary integrated interventional approaches, and perspectives. It is precisely in this framework that this project is based, with 5 main goals: (1) to promote (with and for) students (mainly, but not restricted to, Bioengineering, Biomechanics, Physiotherapy, Sports and Active Aging) a problem-based learning approach for an enhanced action-learning process; (2) to develop a novel micro co-extrusion system with the ability to extrude an inner and outer filament, with high reliability (to be patented); (3) to engineer biomaterials and bioprocesses for the construction of hybrid and functional scaffolds (produce the first controlled architecture scaffolds with elastomeric mechanical properties); (4) to create and disseminate an individual-based exercise program for reducing pain, increasing functional independence, and reducing cost for persons diagnosed with OA; (5) to develop awareness of the society to the OA problem, providing them with fundamental knowledge over the disease, aiming to improve the citizens quality of life.
2bio4cartilage has 2 major areas of intervention, which are different but complementary: one focused on the disease prevention, and other in the development of a tailored treatment. To reach the proposed goals, it is needed to have a clear and well-defined methodology, as well as a highly motivated research team. Thus, 2bio4cartilage has been divided into 7 complementary tasks, developed in strict cooperation inter and intra task, and it comprises the participation of 3 High Education Institutions and the Leiria Hospital Centre. We do believe that this multidisciplinary team will achieve profitable results, as there will be a permanent discussion between different actors who have an important role in the fight against OA. Results from the project must be spread all over, enhancing the awareness of the society to this problem, increasing the knowledge of students from different fields, and adding economic value to a current-days problem for the National Health System.