Growing Cartilage from Stem Cells

Oct 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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)

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User comments : 2

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fixer
not rated yet Oct 21, 2009
Not true, plenty of other people do this.
see http://www.ucsfhe...661.html for a start.
antialias
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.

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