Scientists at the University Hospital Basel have articular cartilage from bone marrow stem cells made by preventing them from becoming bone tissue.
Under normal conditions, mesenchymal stem / stromal cells from adult bone marrow develop into cartilage, which then transforms into bone tissue. This is similar to a fracture, for example.
However, the researchers found that they could prevent embryonic cartilage from becoming bone tissue by inhibiting the signaling pathway of a specific protein called Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP). By temporarily blocking specific BMP receptors they were able to obtain stable cartilage tissue in the laboratory and in mice.
"Importantly, we have achieved our insights by mimicking molecular processes during the formation of embryonic cartilage," said study leader Ivan Martin.
The results confirm the importance of the area of "developmental technology", where natural processes are replicated to control the development of adult stem and progenitor cells. The Basel researchers collaborated with the Novartis Biomedical Research Institutes, which produced and delivered the inhibitors. The findings have been published external link in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this Monday.
According to Martin, the "cultured cartilage" could potentially be used to treat cartilage injury degeneration by producing engineered cartilage grafts, combining with existing procedures or direct release into joints. The implementation of this discovery into clinical use is far from being in sight, he assures