Using bone marrow stem cells to produce high quality cartilage

Disease - Osteoarthritis, sports injury

Lead applicant - Dr Jonathan Dawson

Organisation - University of Southampton

Type of grant - PhD Scholarship

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £143,127.34

Start date - 1 October 2015

Reference - 21269

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is find the best environment in which high quality cartilage can be produced from stem cells.

Why is this research important?

Stem cells obtained from bone marrow can form cartilage, however some stem cells may have better cartilage-forming potential than others when placed in the right growth environment.

Little is currently known about how to select the stem cells which will produce the best cartilage or what the right environmental conditions are for this production. This research project will investigate both of these issues by using a technology called droplet micro-fluidics combined with gels made from clay.

By attaching molecules to the clay gels, scientists can create many different environments in which to grow the stem cells and determine which cells are producing the highest quality cartilage. This is a very fast way of finding the best growth environment and ensures only the best cells are selected for cartilage production.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Finding the best conditions and the strongest stem cells for producing cartilage tissue will develop a new way of replacing cartilage lost through osteoarthritis. New cartilage can be transferred into affected joints to reverse or delay both early and late stage cartilage degeneration.