London: A team of Swedish researchers has used cells from cow knee joints to grow new cartilage tissue in laboratory that can help treat degenerative joint disease like osteoarthritis (OA).
The team from Umea University in Sweden created a successful method with conditions conducive to growing healthy cartilage tissue from cow knee joints.
There is currently no good cure for osteoarthritis. Surgical treatments may help when the damage to the cartilage is relatively minor, whereas joint replacement surgery is the only available solution for people with larger cartilage damage.
"However, artificial joints only last for a couple of decades, making the surgery unsuitable for young persons. So we need a more permanent solution," said Janne Ylarinne, doctoral student at the department of integrative medical biology, in a university statement.
In serious cases, osteoarthritis can mean the loss of practically the entire cartilage tissue in the joint.
While the condition causes pain and immobility for the individual, it also burdens society with accumulated medical costs.
In the stem cell engineering process, the cells, the signaling molecules and the scaffold (artificial support material), are combined to regenerate tissue at the damaged site in the joint.
In their experiments, the researchers used primary bovine chondrocytes (cartilage cells from cows) and produced tissue similar to tissue normally present in the human joints.
In future, these results may help the development of neocartilage production for actual cartilage repair.
For this, stem cells could be grown to provide unlimited amount of material for tissue engineering.
"However, more research is needed to improve the tissue quality and make it more structurally similar to the hyaline cartilage found in the human body," the team noted.