One of my favourite innovation processes is adaptation. That is the ability to take the essence or key attributes of one good idea from one industry/ area and apply it in a totally new one.

Recently I heard about the tissue scientist Ivan Martin in Switzerland who was interested in looking at ways one could use tissue from the nose and apply in some other useful part of the body.

The septum (the upper dividing piece between your nostrils) has some of the softest cartilage in the body, it also happens to be fairly easy to grow. The potential application that Ivan Martin saw was to grow these septum cartilage cells and apply it in an area that suffers from excessive cartilage wear - the knee. You might already know that human cartilage does not have the ability to regenerate itself.

Science has strict guidelines on what you can experiment on humans and so this processed was going to be trialled with goats, which also happen to have similar nose cartilage and knees that sustain cartilage damage.

After growing some of the cartilage cells using the starter cartilage cells from the septum, they grew these for a period of around 4 weeks and then grafted the grown cartilage onto the goats knees to much success. So much so that they could move onto human trials.
The process was adapted and trialed on humans recently. After the 18 month trial the results were overwhelmingly positive with results of improved knee function and pain reduction. There are an increasing number of new areas on the human body that this innovative technique can be applied.        

For those with suffering knees, thanks to some innovative adaption and prototyping, your nose may just be the savior to your aching knees.

Find out what attributes you can take from one world and look at how you could apply it another. That's adaptation



Nils vesk

Innovation speaker, author, strategist