Human cartilage grown on a lab chip
Scientists have for the first time grown living human cartilage on a laboratory chip and say that it could eventually be used to replace damaged or deteriorated cartilage for people with osteoarthritis or soldiers with battlefield injuries.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine used human stem cells, a scaffold and biological factors to make the stem cells grow into cartilage. While providing growth factors to the stem cells, they used the scaffold to give the cartilage the desired shape and structure. One of the factors which made the experiment successful was that the researchers used visible light to grow the stem cells, whereas previous experiments required UV light, which can harm living cells.
By growing the human cartilage on a laboratory chip, the researchers said they will be able to examine how cartilage disintegration—a marker of osteoarthritis—occurs and develop new drugs to treat it. Osteoarthritis is one of the leading causes of physical disability in the United States and currently has no cure.
The ultimate goal, the researchers said, is to be able to allow doctors to create on a 3-D printer new cartilage to fit where it's needed on a patient’s body.