Stem cells that can help repair knee joints are identified in new research
Stem cells that could help repair damage to the knee joints have been identified by experts from the University of Aberdeen. It is hoped that the research will lead to treatments that help prevent the worst damage caused by arthritis before it occurs.
The identified stem cells in the synovium (which is the connective tissue that surrounds the joints) that have the ability to repair and reform cartilage.
A protein called Yap seems to regulate these stem cells and their capacity to contribute to cartilage repair:
- When a joint is injured and the synovial membrane is enlarged, the presence of Yap in the stem cells increases;
- When Yap was removed from the stem cells, the synovial membrane in an injured joint did not expand;
- Cells without Yap showed a reduced ability to contribute to cartilage repair.
It may now become possible to target these stem cells with drugs or other treatments, paving the way for therapies to be created that can restore or rejuvenate ageing cells.
Prof Cosimo De Bari who is involved in the work comments:
“We want to prevent joint damage and arthritis or treat arthritis at an early stage. Once the damage is done, it is difficult to do anything – the challenge is to see if we can support the stem cells present in the joint to make sure they maintain their functionality.”
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