News / Health

Regrowing Worn Joints Using Patient Stem Cells

Researchers explore new, more natural way of dealing with joint damage

Various stages of cartilage growth on scaffold. The final image on the right shows naturally forming cartilage for comparison.
Various stages of cartilage growth on scaffold. The final image on the right shows naturally forming cartilage for comparison.

Multimedia

Audio
Smitha Raghunathan

Millions of people in the United States suffer from osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease. The most severe cases requiring joint replacement surgery.

These replacement joints can be made of combinations of metal alloys, plastic and ceramic, but new research shows that it might be possible to regenerate damaged joints using a patient's own stem cells.

Chronic disability

Osteoarthritis is the result of infection, trauma or simply age, and is the leading cause of chronic disability worldwide.

The disease causes cartilage-protecting joint surfaces to degrade, allowing painful bone-to-bone contact. Osteoarthritis is usually treated with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, but in severe cases, the damaged joint can be replaced with an artificial one. However, this option may not work well for the growing population of younger arthritic patients.

"The average lifespan of the metal joints is about 10 to 15 years," says Jeremy Mao at the Columbia University Medical Center. "So as you can imagine, if you are say 50, 55 or younger, the surgeons will be very hesitant to place these metal joints in your body because knowing that in 10 to 15 years, there's a chance these would fail."

In order to address this concern, Mao is exploring new ways to regenerate joints.

This x-ray shows shows an artificial knee joint, but now scientists are exploring regenerating damaged joints using a patient's own stem cells.
This x-ray shows shows an artificial knee joint, but now scientists are exploring regenerating damaged joints using a patient's own stem cells.

Growing new joint cells

Mao replaced a portion of a rabbit's upper arm joint with a biomaterial scaffold, providing a place for cells to grow. In order to attract the rabbit's own stem cells to re-grow the cartilage, channels in the scaffold were filled with a growth factor protein.

"What we found was with one protein that we delivered in the micro-channels in the scaffolds, that was sufficient to regenerate the entire joint surface with cartilage and with bone and with blood vessels," says Mao. "So when we observe these animals with the replacement joints, what we found was there was regeneration of the entire joint that allowed the animals to resume weight-bearing and locomotion."

This return to normalcy occurred just four months after the surgical procedure, with newly grown cartilage fully covering the joint surface. When the mechanical properties of this new cartilage were tested, they showed that the regenerated cells were just as effective as the rabbit's naturally formed cartilage.

Added benefits

While human trials are still a long way off, scientists in the field are excited and encouraged by the research.

"It's absolutely necessary that we continue to push the envelope in terms of try to develop new innovative and more natural ways of effectively treating arthritis," says Dr. Mary O'Connor, chairperson of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

O'Connor says there is significant benefit to using this type of treatment for arthritis in the knee.

"When we do a knee replacement, we remove one or sometimes both of the cruciate ligaments - which are the ligaments in the center of the knee. So one of the potential advantages of this growing joint technique is perhaps the ability to preserve more of those tissues inside the knee, which would hopefully translate into more natural mechanics of the knee."

O'Connor says cost could be a factor in deciding to use this treatment. While it may not be worthwhile for older patients, younger patients are more likely to regard anything that gives them a lifelong working knee joint as well worth the cost.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid