Millions of people develop osteoarthritis as they reach old age.
Cartilage serves as the shock absorber of the skeleton, but surgery to clean out torn cartilage has limited success, as does surgery to induce growth of a fibrous kind of coating at the ends of bones that have lost their natural cartilage caps. This losing battle leaves bone-on-bone friction, inflammation and pain.
“Our cartilage wasn’t meant to live this long,” says molecular biologist Mary Goldring of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
Regenerating the cartilage-making process in the body has become a primary goal in orthopedic medicine.
The Potential Solution:
The new approach taps into mesenchymal stem cells, the same stem cells that are found in the dental pulp of teeth, which you can now bank with a service like Store-A-Tooth™.
These adult stem cells give rise to cells that make connective tissue and these include chondrocytes, the only cells in the body that manufacture cartilage.
Kartogenin steers the stem cells to wake up and take on cartilage-making duties. This is an essential step in the cartilage repair that falls behind in people with osteoarthritis, the most common kind of arthritis, which develops from injury or long-term joint use.
Kartogenin enabled mice with knee injuries to regain weight-bearing capacity on the joint within 42 days.
The findings provide new clues in the long-running effort to find ways to regenerate cartilage, a central puzzle in the battle against osteoarthritis, scientists report online April 5 in Science.