Growing Cartilage from Stem Cells

October 20, 2009

( -- Damaged knee joints might one day be repaired with cartilage grown from stem cells in a laboratory, based on research by Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou, chair of the UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering and his colleagues.

Using adult stem cells from bone marrow and skin as well as human embryonic , Athanasiou and his group have already grown tissue in the lab. Now they are experimenting with various chemical and mechanical stimuli to improve its properties.

Cartilage is one of the very rare tissues that lacks the ability to heal itself. When damaged by injury or osteoarthritis, the effects can be long-lasting and devastating.

“If I cut a tiny line on articular cartilage (the cartilage that covers the surfaces of bones at joints), it will never be erased,” Athanasiou said. “It’s like writing on the moon. If I go back to look at it a year later, it will look exactly the same.”

Work that Athanasiou's group began in the early 1990s at Rice University has resulted in the only FDA-approved products for treatment of small lesions on articular cartilage. (In total, Athanaisou’s patents have resulted in 15 FDA-approved products.)

"This will be live, biological cartilage that will not only fill defects, but will potentially be able to resurface the entire surface of joints that have been destroyed by osteoarthritis," Athanasiou said. Currently, joint replacements using metal and plastic prosthetics are the only recourse for the one in five adults who will suffer major joint damage from .

Provided by UC Davis (news : web)

Explore further: How movement lubricates bone joints

Related Stories

How movement lubricates bone joints

December 5, 2006

Taking a cue from machines that gently flex patients’ knees to help them recover faster from joint surgery, bioengineering researchers at UC San Diego have shown that sliding forces applied to cartilage surfaces prompt ...

Embryonic stem cells used to grow cartilage

September 6, 2007

Rice University biomedical engineers have developed a new technique for growing cartilage from human embryonic stem cells, a method that could be used to grow replacement cartilage for the surgical repair of knee, jaw, hip, ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Oct 21, 2009
Not true, plenty of other people do this.
see http://www.ucsfhe...661.html for a start.
not rated yet Oct 21, 2009
Growing cartilage is not the problem. The problem is that cartilage (e.g in the knee) has a very definite 3D-structure (parallel fibers at the articulate surface, orthogonal fibers below that and parallel fibers again close to the bone surface).

Synthetically grown cartilage does not have this structure. It's basically an amorphous blob with fibers going in all directions - hence the elastic properties are not the same.

If you reimplant this stuff it looks good but does not perform as well as the surrounding natural cartilage. In short: the spot where you put it will just erode again and you're back to square one.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.