Stems cells taken from just a few grams of body fat are a promising weapon against the crippling effects of osteoarthritis.
For the past two decades, knee, hip or other joint replacements have been the standard treatment for the deterioration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone.
But artificial joints only last about 15 years and are difficult to repair once they fail.
Stem cell injections may offer a new type of therapy by either stopping the degenerative process or by regenerating the damaged cartilage, said pioneering researcher Dr. Farshid Guilak, a professor of orthopedic surgery and director of orthopedic research at Duke University.
Guilak, one of the first researchers to grow cartilage from fat, explains why stem cells are a bright light in osteoarthritis research and why widespread clinical use is still years away. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.