Stem Cells Can Repair Damaged cartilage
Researchers who created cartilage from adult stem cells in mice have raised optimism in developing regenerative therapies for cartilage injury and osteoarthritis. Their study demonstrated the potential use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) – adult cells that have been genetically altered to have the characteristics of embryonic stem cells- for cartilage defect repair and for creating tissue models of cartilage that can be matched to specific genetic backgrounds. The iPCs have the potential to become different types of specialized cells. The study was published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Oct. 29, 2012).
“This technique of creating induced pluripotent stem cells – an achievement honored with this year’s Nobel Prize in medicine for Shimya Yamanaka of Kyoto University- is a way to take adult stem cells and convert them so they have the properties of embryonic stem cells,” said Farshid Guilak, PhD, Laszlo Ormandy Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke and senior author of the study. The researchers aimed to apply recent technologies that have made iPSCs a promising alternative to other tissue engineering techniques, which use adult stem cells derived from the bone marrow or fat tissue.
Articular cartilage is the part of a joint that serves as a cushion or shock absorber between the bones of the joints and allows easy movement. Ordinary wear-and-tear or an injury can diminish its effectiveness and progress to osteoarthritis. Cartilage has no ability to regenerate by itself, that’s why damage and osteoarthritis are leading causes of impairment in older people and often requires joint replacement.
Study leader Brian Diekman, a post-doctoral associate in orthopedic surgery, said the multi-step process used by the researchers show “that iPSCs can be used to make high-quality cartilage, either for replacement tissue or as a way to study disease and potential treatments.”
“The advantage of this technique is that we can grow a continuous supply of cartilage in a dish,” Guilak added. “In addition to cell-based therapies, iPSC technology can also provide patient-specific cell and tissue models that could be used to screen for drugs to treat osteoarthritis, which right now does not have a cure or an effective therapy to inhibit cartilage loss.”
Diekman and Guilak said the next phase of the research will be to use human iPSCs to test the cartilage-growing technique.
(Source: HealthDay News)