Stem cells from ear can create new cartilage

Here's an item that might appeal to Vincent van Gogh, if he were with us today. Your ear contains stem cells that can be grown into cartilage. That means patients undergoing reconstructive surgery could have new cartilage grown from their own ears, rather than the synthetic materials currently used in surgery, New Scientist reports.

In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Takanori Takebe at Yokohama City University in Japan was the first to report that the ear contains stem cells hidden in tissue called the perichondrium. Takebe took perichondrium from human ears and injected it into mice, where the cells grew into cartilage.

"Here, we demonstrate that human auricular perichondrium, which can be obtained via a minimally invasive approach, harbors a unique cell population, termed as cartilage stem/progenitor cells (CSPCs)," the researchers wrote. Takebe says the next phase is to try it at the university hospital.

- read the New Scientist item
- and the abstract in PNAS