Researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

April 17, 2018, University of Basel
Development of cartilage tissue from mesenchymal stem/stromal cells after eight weeks in vivo: Inhibition of the signaling pathway of the protein BMP leads to the maintenance of stable cartilage tissue, indicated by red staining (left). In contrast, the control group shows a development towards bone tissue (right). Credit: University of Basel, Department of Biomedicine

Researchers have produced stable joint cartilage from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This was made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult usually develop into cartilage tissue, which later naturally remodels into . Even if the stem cells are induced to differentiate into , they spontaneously mature into a so-called "hypertrophic" state, ultimately leading to the formation of bone tissue; this is similar to the cartilaginous tissue temporarily formed after a fracture.

Prof. Dr. Ivan Martin's research group at the Department of Biomedicine has now demonstrated that by forcing certain molecular events during the embryonic development of , it is possible to generate stable cartilage tissue from adult human . This can be achieved by inhibiting the signaling pathway of a specific protein, bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). The Basel team generated these results after many years of cooperation with the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, which produced and supplied the inhibitors.

Specifically, the scientists investigated two highly specific BMP receptor inhibitors in a microfluid platform developed in cooperation with Politecnico di Milano. With the use of this new technology, they were able to show that the temporary blocking of specific BMP receptors, even for a limited time, is sufficient to maintain stable cartilage tissue, both in the laboratory and in a mouse model.

These results open new prospects in the regeneration of articular cartilage as well as in the establishment of stem cell-based models of cartilage development, physiology and possibly pathology. "Importantly, we have achieved our insights by mimicking molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation," says Ivan Martin. This confirms the vital role of "developmental engineering," in which natural processes are mimicked to control the development and specification of adult stem and progenitor cells.

Explore further: Researchers engineer 3-D hydrogels for tissue-specific cartilage repair

More information: Paola Occhetta el al., "Developmentally inspired programming of adult human mesenchymal stromal cells toward stable chondrogenesis," PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1720658115

Related Stories

Researchers engineer 3-D hydrogels for tissue-specific cartilage repair

July 26, 2017
Unlike the one-size-fits-all, homogeneous approach to tissue engineering for cartilage replacement, a new study reports the ability to encapsulate cartilage-forming chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells in 3D hydrogels ...

New molecular probes to allow non-destructive analysis of bioengineered cartilage

January 16, 2018
A new study describes novel probes that enable non-invasive, non-destructive, direct monitoring of the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in real-time during the formation of engineered cartilage to replace ...

Better cartilage repairs using stem cells

March 21, 2013
Using adult stem cells is a good way of culturing better-quality cartilage to repair worn hips and knees. New cartilage that has good properties can be grown in particular by cultivating adult stem cells in combination with ...

Bone stem cells shown to regenerate bones and cartilage in adult mice

January 15, 2015
A stem cell capable of regenerating both bone and cartilage has been identified in bone marrow of mice. The discovery by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) is reported today in the online issue of the ...

Recommended for you

The complicated biology of garlic

April 26, 2018
Researchers today generally agree that eating garlic, used for thousands of years to treat human disease, can reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, ...

Noninvasive brain tumor biopsy on the horizon

April 26, 2018
Taking a biopsy of a brain tumor is a complicated and invasive surgical process, but a team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis is developing a way that allows them to detect tumor biomarkers through a simple ...

Lab-on-a-chip delivers critical immunity data for vulnerable populations

April 25, 2018
For millions of displaced people around the world—many of them refugees, living in temporary shelters under crowded conditions—an outbreak of disease is devastating. Each year, the measles virus kills more than 134,000 ...

Want new medicines? You need fundamental research

April 25, 2018
Would we be wise to prioritize "shovel-ready" science over curiosity-driven, fundamental research programs? Would that set the stage for the discovery of more new medicines over the long term?

Implantable islet cells come with their own oxygen supply

April 25, 2018
Since the 1960s, researchers have been interested in the possibility of treating type 1 diabetes by transplanting islet cells—the pancreatic cells that are responsible for producing insulin when blood glucose concentration ...

'Incompatible' donor stem cells cure adult sickle cell patients

April 25, 2018
Doctors at the University of Illinois Hospital have cured seven adult patients of sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder primarily affecting the black community, using stem cells from donors previously thought to ...

0 comments

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.