Scientists have created a new recipe to generate cells which can form bone and cartilage.
This new method tested on mice is easily scalable and is a promising approach for the repair of human bone and cartilage defects.
The research by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Melbourne’s Monash University and Japan’s RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology has just been published in the scientific journal Development.
Current strategies to regenerate bone and cartilage use adult stem cells but such strategies have shown limited success.
The team led by Dr Naoki Nakayama took a different approach, choosing to work with stem cells from the early mouse embryo which have the potential to become any cell type.
To persuade these embryonic stem cells to become cells that can form cartilage (chondrocytes) and then bone, the team chose to use small molecules.
The team was able to generate cells which look and behave like chondrocyte precursor cells destined to form cartilage for the formation of backbone and disc.
When the cartilage was transplanted into mice, they were able to form bone-like structures.
This team’s strategy offers potential in the repair of bone defects through cartilage or potentially of damaged cartilage itself in humans in the future.
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