I found this article interesting on stem cell research - Scientists at Novartis AG (NOVN) have discovered a compound that spurred cartilage growth from stem cells to fix damaged joints of mice, a finding that may point to a novel therapy for the arthritis that afflicts most elderly.
Researchers tested 22,000 drug-like molecules using a robotic screen, applying each one to bone marrow stem cells in tiny laboratory dishes. One compound, dubbed kartogenin, promoted the development of chondrocytes, cells that become cartilage, according to the report in the journal Science.
Researchers injected kartogenin into the damaged knee joints of mice, which prompted cartilage regeneration, improved symptoms and lowered levels of proteins and collagen fragments linked to damaged joints. The results suggest a unique, though early-stage, way to regulate cartilage and possibly repair some of the damage from osteoarthritis, the breakdown of cartilage that leads to joint failure, the researchers said.
"We found this molecule that can take stem cells that are already in the joint, and differentiate them into chondrocytes," cartilage cells that secrete the squishy elastic substance that protects the joints, said Kristen Johnson, a regenerative medicine researcher at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego. "We're excited about the biology because it's a new way of targeting the stem cells, but you can't emphasize enough what an early stage of drug discovery this is."
Additional work is needed to understand exactly how kartogenin works and the basic biology it affects before more animal studies are done, said Johnson, who is also part of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Novartis is based in Basel, Switzerland.
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