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Researchers Moving Toward Creating Cartilage from Embryonic Stem Cells


People who suffer with osteoarthritis might wish doctors could simply replace the cartilage that once cushioned the joint but has worn away with time. Well, that might soon be a reality.
Scientists in the UK have successfully produced cartilage created from embryonic stem cells. The research could lead to a joint-rejuvenating option in the treatment of osteoarthritis.


Professor Sue Kimber and her team at The University of Manchester have developed a protocol in which they grow and transform embryonic stem cells into cartilage cells, also known as chondrocytes. Although still in its experimental stage, this study in rats represents an exciting step in treating joint cartilage damage in humans.

The researchers watched as embryonic stems cells became precursor cartilage cells, then implanted the cells into cartilage defects in the knee joints of rats.

They noted that after four weeks, cartilage in the rats’ knees was partially repaired. After 12 weeks, it had become a smooth surface, which seemed like normal cartilage.

More research is needed to determine the treatment’s safety and effectiveness, before human studies begin. This early study showed no side effects.

Chondrocytes created from adult stem cells are being used, experimentally, but are costly and cannot be produced in large amounts. Embryonic stem cells, on the other hand, have a big capacity to proliferate and can be manipulated to form almost any type of mature cell. Using embryonic stem cells to replace cartilage would be cheaper and applicable to greater number of arthritis patients, according to the researchers.

Physical therapists are trained to provide therapies, including exercises, which can help to prevent arthritis, as well as rehabilitative therapies aimed at helping people prepare for and recover from total joint replacement surgery, which results from osteoarthritis. For more about how physical therapists help patients suffering from osteoarthritis, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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