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All the tissues within our bodies are subjected to mechanical forces and my research looks at how the living cells in these tissues respond - in particular, the articular cartilage which is the smooth layer of tissue that covers the ends of your bones and allows your joints to move freely. You may have the misfortune to know that sports injuries or osteoarthritis can damage this smooth layer.
I am working out how to grow cartilage from adult and embryonic stem cells. This is essential if we are ever to treat patients with advanced osteoarthritis. I am trying to understand how to grow the stem cells, turn them into specialist cartilage cells (called chondrocytes) and use those specialist cells to creat three-dimensional cartilage by a process of tissue engineering. I can already do this fairly well using adult stem cells (derived from bone marrow) but I don't yet have good techniques for doing this using embryonic stem cells.
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