From Stem Cells to Cartilage Repair
Articular cartilage is an essential component of our joints, providing a lubricating, low-friction, gliding surface. This tissue contains no blood supply and so displays a limited capacity for self-regeneration. Strategies to promote articular cartilage growth are very important given the high incidence of osteoarthritis (OA) in the aging population. In OA, articular cartilage tissue degrades, resulting in severe joint pain and debilitation.
A promising method of treatment involves the use of adult mesenchymal connective tissue cells (MSCs). These cells can be differentiated to become cells of cartilage, bone, adipose or other tissues. Dr. McAlinden’s study tests an innovative approach to induce cartilage cell production from adult MSCs isolated from both adipose tissue and bone marrow. Her aim is to differentiate MSCs into the type of cartilage cells (chondrocytes) found only in articular cartilage of our joints. By using virus technology, Dr. McAlinden hopes to be able to select for the desired chondrocyte necessary to promote articular cartilage repair.