Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Select An Article

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Font Size

What Research Is Being Done on Osteoarthritis? continued...

Tissue engineering

This technology involves removing cells from a healthy part of the body and placing them in an area of diseased or damaged tissue to improve certain body functions. Currently, it is used to treat small traumatic injuries or defects in cartilage, and, if successful, could eventually help treat osteoarthritis. Researchers at NIAMS are exploring three types of tissue engineering. The two most common methods being studied today include cartilage cell replacement and stem cell transplantation. The third method is gene therapy.

Cartilage cell replacement: In this procedure, researchers remove cartilage cells from the patient’s own joint and then clone or grow new cells using tissue culture and other laboratory techniques. They then inject the newly grown cells into the patient’s joint. Patients with cartilage cell replacement have fewer symptoms of osteoarthritis. Actual cartilage repair is limited, however.

In one area of research, scientists are testing fibroblastic cells (precursors to cells that make up components of connective tissue) for their ability to differentiate into cartilage cells in a lab dish. The researchers will then see if the resulting cartilage cells can form functional joint cartilage.

Stem cell transplantation: Stem cells are primitive cells that can transform into other kinds of cells, such as muscle or bone cells. They usually are taken from bone marrow. In the future, researchers hope to insert stem cells into cartilage, where the cells will make new cartilage. If successful, this process could be used to repair early cartilage damage and avoid the need for surgical joint replacements later in life.

Gene therapy: Scientists are working to genetically engineer cells that would inhibit certain enzymes that may help break down cartilage and cause joint damage. In gene therapy, cells are removed from the body, genetically changed, and then injected back into the affected joint. They reside in the joint and secrete substances that inhibit the damaging enzymes.

Patient education

Effective treatment for osteoarthritis takes more than medicine or surgery. Getting help from a variety of health care professionals often can improve patient treatment and self-care. (See “Who Treats Osteoarthritis?”) Research shows that adding patient education and social support is a low-cost, effective way to decrease pain and reduce the amount of medicine used. One NIAMS-funded project involves developing and testing an interactive Web site by which health professionals and patients could communicate concerning appointments and treatment instructions, thus giving patients a greater role in and control of their care.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
Keep Joints Healthy
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
close up of man with gut
man knee support
woman with cold compress
Man doing tai chi
hand gripping green rubber ball
person walking with assistance