Damaged and disease joints could be repaired with cells derived from embryonic stem cells after scientists in Manchester developed a method to grow copious amounts in just 14 days.
Embryonic stem cells encouraged to grow into cartilage in new research
Researchers from the University of Manchester and Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust took human embryonic stem cells and developed a culture procedure programming the cells’ development with a timed series of culture conditions containing different added nutrients to ensure they only produced chondrocytes – the cells that go on to form cartilage.
The procedure takes 14 days to generate a high yield of cells and established a chemically-defined and reproducible process.
“We were very encouraged to have been able to generate chondrocytes within 14 days using a controlled and well defined programme and it now remains for us to take these cells and test their performance to repair cartilage in live animals,” said Professor Sue Kimber, co-director of the North West Embryonic Stem Cell Centre who were also involved in the project.
The team now plan to grow and transplant cartilage tissue to live animals to test their potential in cartilage repair and investigate generating chondrocytes and other cells derived from embryonic stem cells that may be suitable for clinical use and produced under clinically stringent conditions – a process they believe may take up to 10 years.
“The use of these stem cell derived chondrocytes may lead to simpler surgical procedures and it raises the possibility of using one source of banked cells for many patients with inherent reduced costs,” said Professor Tim Hardingham of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Matrix Research, “Our work could therefore lead to a treatment for cartilage repair that is both easier and cheaper and may be extended to early osteoarthritic patients, but this will take a considerable amount of time for further development.”