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Joint Regeneration

August 31, 2010

Scientists have generated fully functional, natural replacement joints in rabbits.


Regenerating joints. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In the future, when arthritis wrecks a wrist or knee joint, the doctor may be able to help you grow a new one. That’s the goal of Columbia University stem cell biologist Jeremy Mao. He and his colleagues have regenerated fully functional leg joints in arthritic rabbits. They started by implanting a biological scaffold, created from a three-dimensional laser scan of the joint’s structure.

JEREMY MAO (Columbia University):
And we were able to induce the host’s own stem cells to migrate into the scaffold to regenerate cartilage and bone.

Because the stem cells weren’t cultured outside the rabbit’s bodies, they weren’t rejected by their immune systems. Mao says the ability to regenerate both cartilage and bone paves the way for replacing human joints, which may in turn lead to replacing entire lost limbs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.