Dr. Arnold Caplan, who is a researcher at the National Center for Regenerative Medicine and professor of biology and general medical sciences (oncology), has described a novel way to repair cartilage and bone by growing bone marrow stem cells on three dimensional scaffolds. The scaffolds were made up of hyaluronan, a substance that looks like "goo" and is one of the body's main lubricants. This substance helps protect joints by acting like a gel pad to absorb impact and by making the cartilage between bones more elastic. When Dr. Caplan and colleagues at the Istituti Ortopedici Rizzoli in Bologna, Italy grew specialized human bone marrow stem cells on a scaffold made of hyaluronan they saw that the hyaluronan seemed to coordinate the chemical signals that are responsible repairing cartilage and bone. These signals also cause cells to migrate to a specific tissue, change the ability of these cells to attach and grow on bone, or reduce the mineral content of bone. For people afflicted by musculoskeletal conditions like bone loss and fractures, this research could be used to develop new therapies because the technique not only repairs the tissue but also enhances the growth of necessary cells in the damaged area.
Musculoskeletal conditions cost our society an estimated $254 billion every year because 28.6 million Americans incur a musculoskeletal injury every year. One out of every seven Americans reports a musculoskeletal impairment and approximately 7.5 million musculoskeletal procedures are performed by physicians every year. The clinical need for newer, better treatments for musculoskeletal problems is especially evident in osteoporosis where one out of every two women and one out of every eight men older than age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
One of the main structural components of bone is the matrix that surrounds bone cells which is made up of complex carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. Hyaluronan is an important component of this matrix and functions to promote bone growth and repair. Dr. Caplan and his group of researchers discovered that the interactions between human stem cells and a three-dimensional hyaluronan-based scaffold caused the stem cells to release chemicals important in bone and cartilage repair.
Results from this study indicate that HA seems to coordinate the action of certain chemicals in the bone that are capable of matrix remodeling. These signals aid bone and cartilage repair by attracting cells to the damaged area and allowing them to engraft into the tissue. With the millions of Americans afflicted with various musculoskeletal problems, new techniques like this will revolutionize the field of tissue engineering and allow people to live more fulfilling lives.
Lisignoli G, Cristino S, Piacentini A, Cavallo C, Caplan AI, Facchini A. Hyaluronan-based polymer scaffold modulates the expression of inflammatory and degradative factors in mesenchymal stem cells: Involvement of Cd44 and Cd54.
J Cell Physiol. 2005 Dec 5; [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 16331675 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
The National Center for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) builds upon leading research and clinical programs at its founding institutions—Case Western Reserve University, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and University Hospitals of Cleveland—in heart disease, cancer, genetic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases, coupled with a 25-year history of research on non-embryonic stem cells at these institutions. This combination of outstanding clinical and research programs coupled with tested and proven experience of using non-embryonic stem cell transplantation to treat patients makes this center unique in the United States.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.