OREANDA-NEWS  Scientists at the University of Montana have developed a new way to grow human head and neck cartilage. The results of the study are published in the journal iScience.

The precursors of the cartilaginous tissue of the head are the cells of the neural crest, a structure that arises from the marginal sections of the nerve groove during its closure into the neural tube. Neural crest cells have been used by scientists to create craniofacial organoids, three-dimensional tissue cultures that simulate the functions of certain human organs.

The researchers examined data on gene expression at the RNA and protein levels to figure out how cartilage cells arise from stem cells. It has been found that stem cells interact with each other in the early stages to form the elastic cartilage that makes up human ears.

Knowledge of the signaling pathways involved in the development of cartilage will help develop methods for growing these tissues in the laboratory for the subsequent treatment of craniofacial defects in humans. Currently, using existing methods, it is difficult to restore organs such as ears, nose or larynx, and transplanted tissue is often rejected without the use of immunosuppressants.