Identification of the human skeletal stem cell by Stanford scientists could pave the way for regenerative treatments for bone fractures, arthritis and joint injuries.

For over a decade, scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have been commended with the identification of the human skeletal stem cell. The team has been able to isolate the cell from human bone, which gives rise to progenitor cells that make new bone’s interior, as well as the cartilage that helps our knees and other joints to function smoothly and painlessly.

“The skeletal stem cell we’ve identified possesses all of the hallmark qualities of true, multi-potential, self-renewing, tissue specific stem cells.” – Charles K.F. Chan, PhD

This discovery could pave the way for treatments that help to regenerate bone and cartilage in humans.

The researchers showed that the human skeletal stem cell they identified is self-renewing and has the ability to create bone and cartilage. It is found at the end of developing bone, and has been shown in increased numbers near the site of healing fractures.

“Every day, children and adults need normal bone, cartilage and stromal tissue,” said Michael Longaker, MD, professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery. “There are 75 million Americans with arthritis, for example. Imagine if we could turn readily available fat cells from liposuction into stem cells that could be injected into their joints to make new cartilage, or if we could stimulate the formation of new bone to repair fractures in older people.”

This discovery could lead to the creation of customizable Stem Cell Recruitment Therapies for the treatment of specific disorders – leading to an ultimate game-changer in the field of regenerative medicine.


Link to Identification Human Skeletal Stem Cell by Chan, et al.

Longaker is a member of the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, the Stanford Cancer Institute and Stanford Bio-X.

Researchers from the Medical University of Graz in Austria, RIKEN in Japan and the University of California-San Diego also contributed to the study. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01DE027323, R56DE025597, R01DE026730, R01DE021683, R21DE024230, U01HL099776, U24DE026914, R21DE019274, U01HL099999, R01CA86065, R01HL058770, NIAK99AG049958, P50HG007735, R01 R055650, R01AR06371 and S10 RR02933801), the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Oak Foundation, the Hagey Laboratory, the Pitch Johnson Fund, the Gunn/Oliver Research Fund, a Siebel Fellowship, a PCFYI Award, Stinehart/Reed, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Ellenburg Chair.

The researchers have a pending patent for the isolation, derivation and use of human skeletal stem cells and their downstream progenitors. Stanford’s Department of Surgery also supported the work.