Bone stem cells may regenerate bones, cartilage with huge future potential: study

Scientists have identified stem cells that are capable of regenerating both bone and cartilage in bone marrow of mice, with future potential in humans too to regenerate limbs lost in accidents.

The concept may be familiar in both Bollywood and Hollywood movies, but for the first time researchers have identified the particular stem cells in bone marrow that can be used for the experiment.

The cells called osteochondroreticular (OCR) stem cells were discovered by tracking a protein expressed by the cells by Indian-American researcher Siddhartha Mukherjee from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

Mukherjee and his team found that OCR cells self-renew and generate key bone and cartilage cells, when transplanted to a fracture site and also contribute to bone repair.

The researchers believe OCR stem cells are present in human bone tissue as mice and humans have similar bone biology.

“If you make a fracture in the mouse, these cells will come alive again, generate both bone and cartilage in the mouse and repair the fracture. The question is, could this happen in humans,” asked Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine.

Since further study could provide greater understanding of how to prevent and treat osteoporosis, osteoarthritis or bone fractures, Mukherjee says OCR cells may play a role in soft tissue cancers too.

The paper has been published in the journal Cell.(IANS)

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