Washington: Researchers have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from bone marrow tissue.
Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, who led the study and is the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia Engineering and professor of medical sciences, said they've been able - for the first time - to generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking in vitro the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation.
Vunjak-Novakovic's team succeeded in growing cartilage with physiologic architecture and strength by radically changing the tissue-engineering approach.
Sarindr Bhumiratana , postdoctoral fellow in Vunjak-Novakovic's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, came up with the approach: inducing the mesenchymal stem cells to undergo a condensation stage as they do in the body before starting to make cartilage.
He discovered that this simple but major departure from how things were usually being done resulted in a quality of human cartilage not seen before.
Gerard Ateshian, Andrew Walz Professor of Mechanical Engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his PhD student, Sevan Oungoulian, helped perform measurements showing that the lubricative property and compressive strength-the two important functional properties-of the tissue-engineered cartilage approached those of native cartilage.
The researchers then used their method to regenerate large pieces of anatomically shaped and mechanically strong cartilage over the bone, and to repair defects in cartilage.
The study has been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).