This technology includes a method for differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into stable chondrocytes, capable of producing cartilage, and their use in cartilage repair in human injury and degenerative diseases. In suspension culture, hiPSC aggregates demonstrate gene and protein expression patterns similar to articular cartilage. Transplantation of cells from the aggregates into a mouse/rat femoral articular cartilage defect leads to the formation of stable, hyaline-like cartilage that persists for up to 5 months in immunocompromised mice and rats, demonstrating that hiPSC could potentially be used to regenerate cartilage in humans with similar defects. A potential application includes the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA), a disease characterized by the permanent loss of articular cartilage that lines joint surfaces.
This technology has the potential to be used to repair a variety of sources of cartilage damage, including damage caused by injury, overuse, and disease. In addition, the method described here produces chondrocytes that are stable when transplanted in vivo, which can potentially effect long-term and significant healing.