How to Create New Cartilage from Stem Cells

Researchers at the University of Southampton have invented a new way to generate human cartilage tissue from stem cells. The technique could pave the way for the development of a much-needed new treatment for people with cartilage damage. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber in joints, but it is susceptible to damage through daily wear-and-tear, or trauma from sports injuries and falls. The current gold-standard surgical approach to restore regions of damaged cartilage, using cartilage cells, is not wholly successful. This is because survival of the repair tissue, generated by cartilage cells at the site of damage, has been shown to decrease significantly after 5-10 years. As such, there is a need for a new way to promote robust, long-term repair through the implantation of cartilage tissue, as opposed to cartilage cells, at the site of damage.

Scientists at the Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration think they may have found the answer. They generated cartilage tissue in the laboratory by successfully differentiating embryonic stem cells into cartilage cells, and then used these to generate three-dimensional pieces of cartilage tissue without any synthetic or natural supporting materials. This is known as a ‘scaffold-freecartilage tissue engineering technique. The generated cartilage tissue is structurally and mechanically comparable to normal human cartilage with the potential to form a stable and longer lasting repair than current treatment options available to patients.

The researchers are the first to use the scaffold-free technique to generate cartilage tissue, which is scaled up beyond 1 mm without adversely affecting its structural and mechanical properties.  The team hopes that eventually, after more research is conducted, this lab created tissue could be routinely used in surgery to mend damaged cartilage.

The interdisciplinary study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was led by Dr Franchesca Houghtonand Dr Rahul Tare from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton.

This research is exciting as our ability to generate cartilage with properties akin to normal human cartilage has the potential to provide a robust tissue engineered product for cartilage repair,” said Dr Houghton.

This tissue-based approach of replacing ‘like-for-like’ has the potential to constitute a step-change improvement in current cell-based surgical approaches for repairing damaged cartilage and improve long-term patient outcomes,” adds Dr Tare.

Source: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/

How to Heal Osteoarthritis in the Knee

Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, affects over 32 million people in the U.S. each year. Characterized by a progressive degeneration of cartilage resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, and most frequently occurring in the hands, hips, and knees, OA has no pharmacological, biological, or surgical treatment to prevent progression of the condition. The authors of this case report focus specifically on potential treatment options for OA of the knee.

With the emergence of stem cell-based therapies for a multitude of health conditions, stem cells, and specifically mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have demonstrated immunosuppressive activities that could prove beneficial in supporting the regeneration of cartilage tissue in and around joints in the body.

Research has demonstrated that MSCs are effective in differentiating into essential connective tissues like fat, cartilage, and bone; MSCs have also demonstrated immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects, the ability to self-renew, and plasticity, making MSCs a potentially powerful treatment of OA in the knee (and other parts of the body).

This specific case study details cartilage regeneration in the knee of a 47-year-old woman diagnosed with OA when treated with bone marrow-derived MSC cells. For the course of this treatment, autologous MSCs were collected from bone marrow harvested from the iliac crest. After processing and preparing the MSCs, the sample was confirmed to be free of microbial contamination and was prepared and transplanted into the patient’s knee joint.

Periodic follow-ups with the patient revealed no local or systemic adverse events associated with the MSC transplant procedure. The authors of this case report found that the patient’s functional status of her knee, the number of stairs she could climb, reported pain on a visual analog scale, and walking distance all improved in the two months following the MSC transplant procedure.

Source: https://stem-cells.in-the.news/