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The cartilage was created using induced pluripotent stem cells, which are adult cells that have been genetically altered to have the characteristics of embryonic stem cells. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have the potential to become different types of specialized cells.
"What this research shows in a mouse model is the ability to create an unlimited supply of stem cells that can turn into any type of tissue -- in this case cartilage, which has no ability to regenerate by itself," study senior author Farshid Guilak, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said in a university news release.
The study was published online Oct. 29 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Study leader Brian Diekman, a post-doctoral associate in orthopedic surgery, said the multi-step process used by the researchers shows "that iPSCs can be used to make high-quality cartilage, either for replacement tissue or as a way to study disease and potential treatments."
Guilak added that the advantage of this technique is "we can grow a continuous supply of cartilage in a dish." He said that in addition to cell-based therapies, this technology can also provide "patient-specific cell and tissue models that could be used to screen for drugs to treat osteoarthritis, which right now does not have a cure or an effective therapy to inhibit cartilage loss."
However, results achieved in animal trials do not necessarily apply to humans. The researchers said they next plan to use human induced pluripotent stem cells to test the cartilage-growing technique.
-- Robert Preidt
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