Arthritis affects more than 4.5 million Canadians of every age, physical condition, and ethnic background, and is a leading cause of disability in Canada.

Osteoarthritis, the most common form, occurs when cartilage wears away. In most parts of the body, adult stem cells are believed to counteract this normal wear and tear and aid in tissue repair. But the cartilage in joints lacks the stem cells necessary to make this happen. Without any built-in mechanism of recovery when cartilage breaks down in individuals with osteoarthritis, the result is chronic pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

As a Canada Research Chair in Bone and Joint Stem Cell Biology, Dr. Roman Krawetz is developing regenerative medical techniques that could aid in cartilage repair. The Krawetz laboratory research team are investigating the relationship between inflammation within the joint and how stem cells behave. Understanding this relationship may allow us to enhance the natural repair capacity of the patient’s own stem cells by controlling the inflammatory response.

The Krawetz lab has already published data showing that the intensity and nature of the inflammation in arthritic joints is linked to stem cells’ inability to generate and repair cartilage. Therefore, our lab group is focusing on new ways to harness and direct our stem cells’ anti-inflammatory and regenerative capacities, and ultimately, contribute to developing new pharmaceuticals and patient-derived cell-based therapies to restore cartilage damaged by injury or osteoarthritis.