Scientists tackle an obstacle in stem cell medicine

August 28, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

Scientists are tackling problems in stem cell medicine.

Between a growing population of senior citizens who are more active than in previous generations, and elite athletes who push themselves to their limits, scientists are trying to diversify the number of treatments available for orthopaedics issues. One exciting area of research is adult stem cells, which can be harvested from the patients themselves and used to replace different types of damaged cells.

Adipose stem cells (ASCs) come from fat, but can be manipulated in the laboratory to turn into cartilage, possibly creating a therapy for conditions such as osteoarthritis. However, one potential obstacle for this approach is that during this process, ASCs may release a signaling protein known as VEGF, which kills other cells that have turned into cartilage.

One team of scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that they could get around this problem by growing the ASCs in the presence of antibodies that neutralize VEGF, as well as nutrients that encourage the formation of cartilage cells.

This study, published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy, may inform other projects on this type of medicine.

Researchers at the Andrews Institute are conducting their own studies on stem cell therapies, and work in cooperation with government medical authorities to ensure that treatments are both safe and effective.

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