London: Stem cells have been used to grow cartilage in a breakthrough that could eventually mean fewer patients need hip and knee replacements.
Scientists from Imperial College London have used stem cells from embryos to make new cartilage that can be injected into damaged joints. The development may mean that the technology can be used for patients with sports injuries and age-related disasters such as osteoarthritis.
Cartilage is a smooth, flexible layer of tissue that sits between the bones in the body’s major joints. Its job is to act as a shock absorber, protecting the joints against impact damage and from wear and tear.
The Imperial College scientists combinedthe stem cells with a few cartilage cells extracted from healthy joints. Although the technique has yet to be used in humans, the team behind the research is confident it has major advantages over existing cartilage production methods.