Nav: Home

CWRU leads effort to replace prostheses with engineered cartilage

May 23, 2016

CLEVELAND--Case Western Reserve University will open a new center designed to develop evaluation technology and set standards for testing and improving engineered cartilage that could one day replace a variety of prosthetic devices.

Biology Professor Arnold Caplan and colleagues have received a 5-year, $6.7 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering to open and direct the Center for Multimodal Evaluation of Engineered Cartilage.

"The grant supports a research center developing state-of-the-art technology to be used by experimentalists from all over the world," Caplan said.

Researchers from across the United States and as far as Europe and Asia who have committed to both contribute to and use the center will meet at Case Western Reserve Monday, May 23. They will review current technologies and discuss areas to improve. Their first target is knee cartilage.

"Your long-term goals for the center are both remarkable and far-reaching," President Barbara R. Snyder told the scientists gathered Monday morning. "... We are proud to host this center and are grateful to Professor Caplan for his leadership in its development."

Engineered cartilage can be made with a patient's own adult stem cells, cartilage cells taken from a patient's knee or, as researchers in Switzerland recently showed, by growing and manipulating cells removed from the nasal septum and implanted in cartilage defects in the knee.

"But no one has been successful yet in providing a hunk of cartilage that can be implanted in someone's knee or hip, integrate into the joint and function," Caplan said. "Our objective is to non-destructively interrogate cartilage that's forming and being put together outside the body to determine when it's of sufficient quality to put inside the body."

The long-term goal is to make engineered cartilage a viable option for patients who suffer cartilage damage or loss in the knee, shoulder and other joints, and apply what's learned to engineer other tissues. But for that to happen, the variability caused by using human cells in the process and the unpredictable quality that results must be strictly controlled.

The process of making and comprehensively assessing engineered cartilage is complex. Experts from a breadth of fields, including molecular and cell biology; biomedical, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering; advanced imaging and computer modeling are involved in the new center.

The center will serve as a resource where academic and industrial labs may access information and receive assistance in planning and methods, and use specialized facilities. It will also disseminate its findings and provide training. To ensure the work is shared with a similar center housed at Tufts University, its director, David Kaplan, also chairs the advisory committee of the center based at Case Western Reserve.

To develop and employ non-destructive/non-invasive tools to continuously monitor and assess implantable cartilage through each step of the engineering process and the final product itself, center members will:
    1. Develop imaging methods, focusing on microRNA that regulates and maintains cell differentiation, to track the state of the cartilage tissue through the process.

    2. Use modified cells as probes, develop methods to analyze cell differentiation, and develop tools to predict the extracellular matrix composition--which influences cell differentiation and cartilage properties--based on matrix remodeling during tissue growth.

    3. Develop technologies to evaluate the biochemical environment, which plays a major role in the successful or unsuccessful conversion of stem cells into cartilage and reproduction and growth of cartilage cells.

    4. Develop technologies to evaluate the mechanical properties of engineered cartilage, to determine whether the tissue can withstand the pressures and maintain a surface that enables bone to slide smoothly within a joint.

Joining Caplan as principals at the center are: Jean Welter, Diego Correa and Rodrigo Somoza from the Department of Biology; Harihara Baskaran and Joseph Mansour from Case School of Engineering; and Alex Huang, Ahmad Khalil, Zhenghong Lee and Mark Schluchter from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

Collaborators include researchers from: Case Western Reserve; University of California, Davis; Baylor College of Medicine; Johns Hopkins University; Washington University; Columbia University; Rice University; University of Southern California; Georgia Tech and Emory universities and University of Pittsburgh. Others are hospitals and universities in the Republic of Korea, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Taiwan.
About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is one of the country's leading private research institutions. Located in Cleveland, we offer a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. Our leading-edge faculty engage in teaching and research in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work. About 5,100 undergraduate and 6,200 graduate students comprise our student body. Visit to see how Case Western Reserve thinks beyond the possible.

Case Western Reserve University

Related Stem Cells Articles:

A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
New research finds novel method for generating airway cells from stem cells
Researchers have developed a new approach for growing and studying cells they hope one day will lead to curing lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis through 'personalized medicine.'
Mature heart muscle cells created in the laboratory from stem cells
Generating mature and viable heart muscle cells from human or other animal stem cells has proven difficult for biologists.
Mutations in bone cells can drive leukemia in neighboring stem cells
DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia formation in nearby blood stem cells.
Scientists take aging cardiac stem cells out of semiretirement to improve stem cell therapy
With age, the chromosomes of our cardiac stem cells compress as they move into a state of safe, semiretirement.
Purest yet liver-like cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells
A team of researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere has found a better way to purify liver cells made from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Stem cell scientists discover genetic switch to increase supply of stem cells from cord blood
International stem cell scientists, co-led in Canada by Dr. John Dick and in the Netherlands by Dr.
Stem cells from diabetic patients coaxed to become insulin-secreting cells
Signaling a potential new approach to treating diabetes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Related Stem Cells Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...