Genzyme Tissue Repair performed the first procedure Friday as partof a new service involving growing cartilage cells for use in treatingknee damage.

The procedure involves taking a biopsy from the injured person,culturing and growing millions of cells, then implanting theautologous cells back into an area of the femur that makes up part ofthe knee. Researchers have shown the cells integrate into surroundingtissue and mature into normal cartilage, restoring nearly frictionlessmovement of the knee.

Genzyme Tissue Repair (GTR), a unit of Cambridge, Mass.-basedGenzyme Corp., got the technology through its acquisition ofBioSurface Technology Inc., which was completed in December.BioSurface was collaborating with Swedish researchers on thetreatment.

"This is going to be [GTR's] lead product for some time to come,"said Stephen Push, Genzyme's vice president for corporatecommunications.

Hospitals in Boston will be the first to participate in the service. Pushsaid a procedure probably will be performed in New York in comingweeks.

Push told BioWorld the procedure, if performed early enough, couldprevent the need for some joint replacements.

Genzyme Tissue Repair's (NASDAQ:GENZL) stock, tradedseparately from Genzyme Corp.'s, closed up 31 cents Friday at $7.06per share. The stock traded as low as $3.50 this year. _ Jim Shrine

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