Researchers identify stem cells for osteoarthritis treatment

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A stem cell discovery made by the University of York has suggested a new pathway for developing targeted treatments for osteoarthritis.

The Arthritis Research UK-backed study, conducted in partnership with the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, was able to identify a series of individual stem cells that can regenerate tissue, cartilage and bone.

“UK scientists have identified individual stem cells that can regenerate tissue, cartilage and bone.“

These cells are mixed within human bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs) but are similar in appearance making them hard to distinguish. However, the York researchers were able to isolate individual MSCs and analyse their different properties, making it possible to identify those capable of repairing damaged cartilage or joint tissue.

Moreover, the team was able to isolate a rare subset of stem cells in bone marrow that possessed no capability for tissue repair, but appeared to have a prominent role in immune function.

Dr Paul Genever, who led the research at York, said: "This project has helped us to establish which cells are good at regenerating tissue, cartilage and bone respectively. It will help in the search to develop more targeted therapies for arthritis patients."

Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the joints to become painful and stiff. It is the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

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