Scientists set out to regenerate cartilage with stem cells

A team of researchers drawn from Cornell University, Colorado State University and the University of California, San Diego have tapped a new federal grant to study whether an innovative stem cell technique can regenerate cartilage. They've begun their work on retired race horses, creating a cartilage injury and then applying concentrated stem cells extracted from their bone marrows. And if it works for horses, they say, the procedure should be effective for humans.

So far, treatments used to repair cartilage in humans have failed to recreate the natural cartilage we're born with. Currently, "all of our best efforts create inferior tissue to what we are born with," says Constance Chu, an associate professor and director of the Cartilage Restoration Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Cartilage erosion leads to osteoarthritis, and a new therapy that can regenerate cartilage could help prevent a disease that afflicts 27 million Americans.

The team will have data on 12 horses involved in the new study in a matter of months. The scientists are also studying new imaging techniques for early diagnosis.

- here's the article from the Wall Street Journal