Arthritis Fact Sheet

CIRM funds several research projects investigating ways to repair cartilage damage that can lead to osteoarthritis as well as repair the damage from osteoarthritis after it occurs.


More than 27 million people in the U.S. have osteoarthritis. It does not just strike the elderly; 14 percent of people over 25 have the degenerative joint disease. That rises to 33 percent for those over 65 with the end stage disease resulting in a million joint replacement surgeries each year. In a more rare condition, young people have cartilage damage caused by underlying bone defects that if left untreated are a major cause of early-onset osteoarthritis. CIRM is funding several approaches to stopping or reversing the disease. One team found a drug that drives mesenchymal stem cells naturally found in our joints to become cartilage at the site of injury. Other groups are looking for ways to generate new cartilage from stem cells grown in the lab along with various forms of scaffold to help give the cells the desired shape and structure. Teams are using both adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells as a starting point for creating the cartilage.

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