It is well known that articular cartilage in adults has a limited ability for self-repair. Numerous methods have been devised to augment its natural healing response, but these methods generally lead to filling of the defect with fibrous tissue or fibrocartilage, which lacks the mechanical characteristics of articular cartilage and fails with time. Recently, tissue engineering has emerged as a new discipline that amalgamates aspects from biology, engineering, materials science, and surgery and that has as a goal the fabrication of functional new tissues to replace damaged tissues. The emergence of tissue engineering has facilitated the generation of new concepts and the revival of old ideas all of which has allowed a fresh approach to the repair or regeneration of tissues such as cartilage. The collaborations between scientists with different backgrounds and expertise has allowed the identification of some key principles that serve as the basis for the development of therapeutic approaches that now are less empiric and more hypothesis-driven than ever before. The current authors review some of the considerations regarding the various models used to test and validate the above repair methods and to address different aspects of the cartilage repair paradigm. Also, some key principles identified from past and current research, the need for the development of new biomaterials, and considerations in scale-up of cell-biomaterial constructs are summarized.

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