A key protein called Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3), can turn back the clock on aging cartilage, according to a study co-led by Denis Evseenko, MD, PhD, a professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at USC Stem Cell. The study was conducted in partnership with UCLA and was published in Aging Cell.

The researchers hypothesized that studying the role of STAT3 in embryonic cartilage development could lead to ways of treating osteoarthritis with the protein. One test that involved using a molecule to activate STAT3 succeeded in triggering older cartilage cells to revert to an immature state.

The resulting immature stem cells turned out to not be ideal for osteoarthritis patients, but this initial study will inform further research of STAT3’s regenerative capabilities.

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