|Noriyuki Tsumaki M.D., Ph.D.
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Toward basic research into bone and cartilage diseases
Cartilage includes growth cartilage and articular cartilage. Abnormalities in growth cartilage cause systemic bone diseases such as chondrodysplasia, and abnormalities in the articular cartilage cause osteoarthritis which bring about pain in the joints during exercise. The treatment of cartilage is a challenging issue that has extended over a long period of time in the field of orthopaedic surgery. One of the reasons is because the cartilage of patients cannot be sampled and investigated. On the other hand, many researchers around the world, including us, have performed basic research that investigates mechanisms regulating the formation and differentiation of cartilage. It is becoming possible to induce a pure cartilage cell in a test tube from skin cells of patients suffering from cartilage disease by applying cell reprogramming techniques that are associated with the development of iPS cells to the findings of this basic research on cartilage. The pathology of the cartilage disease of patients shall be reproduced in cartilage cells induced from cells of patients. Diseases will then be elucidated and medicines will be searched for with induced cartilage cells from patients as a disease model. Regarding the methods to induce cartilage cells from a patient, one method is to induce iPS cells from somatic cells such as skin cells followed by differentiation into the cartilage, and another method is to directly convert skin cells to cartilage cells without the use of iPS cells, and there are advantages to each method. We would like to contribute to the development of treatment methods for cartilage diseases by performing this series of basic research studies on cartilage, in order to establish a technique to induce cartilage cells, elucidate various diseases, and develop new medicines. Moreover, we will perform research and development to perform cell transplantation of induced cartilage cells into an animal model with cartilage defects, with the goal of achieving successful regenerative therapy.