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Scientists: Stem Cell-Grown Cartilage Could Be A Hip Replacement

Update Date: Jul 21, 2016 11:00 AM EDT
Stem cells
A colony of induced pluripotent stem cells. Blue fluorescence indicates cell nuclei; red and green are markers of pluripotency.




(Photo : The Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

A biomedical engineering Ph.D. student Ali Ross and professor of orthopedic surgery, Farshid Guilak, Ph.D. from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, have recently displayed the newly developed prototype of a living hip replacement.

The 3-D, biodegradable, synthetic scaffold is covered with cartilage formed out of stem cells taken from a patient’s fat reserves, found under the skin.

Before they had successfully coaxed a template of the ball of a hip joint for the new cartilage to grown on via stem cells, the St. Louis orthopedic researcher recall how the discovery was made possible by accident.

Guilak recalled the incident 15 years ago that paved the way for scientific discovery today, that which will save millions of people.

It started with an experience of his friend from his former company that provided fat cells to researchers, St. Louis Public Radio learned.

The regenerative medicine researcher recounted how his friend from work, “accidentally left some cells in the back of his incubator for a couple of weeks,” and forgot about them until they formed mineral when later discovered.

If the hardened cells were thrown out as they were planning to upon discovery years ago, the cartilage that could serve hip replacement would not have been possible today.

Since then, Guilak continued, he had been involved in numerous attempts to create woven polymer models for the cells to grow on.

With these models, they are able to shape the cells into joints made of living cartilage, instead of resorting to the use of plastic or metal as hip replacement.

Patients benefit from using hip made of living tissue such as the cartilage through stem cells as they are known to last longer than metals or plastic.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the United States make an estimated 332,000 hip replacements every year.

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