It was formed in 2004 by the amalgamation of the Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
It is a member of the worldwide Universities Research Association group, the Russell Group of British research universities and the N8 Group. The University of Manchester has been a “red brick university” since 1880 when Victoria University gained its royal charter.
The main site is south of Manchester city centre on Oxford Road in Chorlton-on-Medlock. In 2012, the university had around 39,000 students and 10,400 staff, making it the largest single-site university in the United Kingdom. The University of Manchester had an income of £808.6 million in 2010–11, of which £196.2 million was from research grants and contracts.
In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Manchester came third in terms of research power and eighth for grade point average quality when including specialist institutions. More students try to gain entry to the University of Manchester than to any other university in the country, with more than 60,000 applications for undergraduate courses. According to the 2012 Highfliers Report, Manchester is the most targeted university by the Top 100 Graduate Employers. In the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities, Manchester is ranked 40th in the world and 5th in the UK. It is ranked 32nd in the world, 10th in Europe and 8th in the UK in the 2012 QS World University Rankings.
The university owns and operates major cultural assets such as the Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library and Jodrell Bank Observatory. The University of Manchester has 25 Nobel Laureates among its past and present students and staff, the third-highest number of any single university in the United Kingdom after Cambridge and Oxford. Four Nobel laureates are currently among its staff – more than any other British university.
University of Manchester research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Groundbreaking text mining project highlights ‘gender gap’ in scientific research – March 8, 2016
- Heat-activated cancer-killing grenade to target cancer – November 1, 2015
- Graphene drives potential for the next-generation of fuel-efficient cars – August 24, 2015
- Manchester team reveal new, stable 2D materials – August 21, 2015
- Generating power from waste heat – August 4, 2015
- Mould unlocks new route to biofuels – June 18, 2015
- Scientists Print Low Cost Radio Frequency Antenna with Graphene Ink – May 16, 2015
- New findings support University bid for bandages to enter the electronic age – May 15, 2015
- Arthritis cure is on the way: Scientists make new breakthrough using embryonic stem cells – March 7, 2015
- Artificially-intelligent Robot Scientist ‘Eve’ could boost search for new drugs – February 5, 2015
- Graphene displays clear prospects for flexible electronics – February 4, 2015
- Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed – December 27, 2014
- Graphene breakthrough could make it possible to fuel your car with air – December 2, 2014
- Software to automatically outline bones in x-rays – November 15, 2014
- Major breakthrough could help detoxify pollutants – October 20, 2014
- Graphene paints a corrosion-free future – September 15, 2014
- Scientists discover hazardous waste-eating bacteria – September 10, 2014
- Winds of change for the shipping sector – June 20, 2014
- Scientists find mechanism to reset body clock
- Direct ‘writing’ of artificial cell membranes on graphene
- Important step-forward in mission to tackle parasitic worm infections
- Neuromorphic computing: The machine of a new soul
- New stem cell gene therapy gives hope to prevent inherited neurological disease
- First global atlas of marine plankton reveals remarkable underwater world
- Graphene Ink Moves Bendy Gadgets Closer to Reality
- Controlling magnetic clouds in graphene
- Nearly 5 Million Asthmatics Worldwide Could Benefit From Antifungal Therapy
- Graphene’s high-speed seesaw revolutionary transistor technology
- How graphene and friends could harness the Sun’s energy
- The secrets of a tadpole’s tail and the implications for human healing
- Molecular machine could hold key to more efficient manufacturing
- How to get fossil fuels from ice cream and soap
- 3-D Bio-Printing Makes Better Regenerative Implants
- The Graphene-Paved Roadmap: ‘Wonder Material’ Has Potential to Revolutionize Our Lives
- ‘Magic carpet’ could help prevent falls
- ‘Invisibility’ Cloak Could Protect Buildings from Earthquakes
- Breeding Crops With Deeper Roots Could ‘Slash CO2 Levels’
- Major Step Toward Creating Faster Electronics Using Graphene
- Nanoscale Whiskers from Sea Creatures Could Grow Human Muscle Tissue
- How Heating Our Homes Could Help Reduce Climate Change
- Predictive policing: Don’t even think about it
- Human cloning developments raise hopes for new treatments
- Human stem cell therapy works in blind patients in first trial
- KickSat would launch members’ nanosatellites into space for a few hundred bucks
- New Skin Tanning Drug
- Synthetic life patents ‘damaging’
- Cooking With Sound: Bio-Mass Burning Stove Also Converts Heat Into Sound Then Electricity
Scientists at The University of Manchester have produced the most tightly knotted physical structure ever known – a scientific achievement which has the potential to create a new generation of advanced materials.
The University of Manchester researchers, led by Professor David Leigh in Manchester’s School of Chemistry, have developed a way of braiding multiple molecular strands enabling tighter and more complex knots to be made than has previously been possible.
The breakthrough knot has eight crossings in a 192-atom closed loop – which is about 20 nanometres long (ie 20 millionths of a millimeter).
Being able to make different types of molecular knots means that scientists should be able to probe how knotting affects strength and elasticity of materials which will enable them to weave polymer strands to generate new types of materials.
Professor Leigh said: “Tying knots is a similar process to weaving so the techniques being developed to tie knots in molecules should also be applicable to the weaving of molecular strands.
“For example, bullet-proof vests and body armour are made of kevlar, a plastic that consists of rigid molecular rods aligned in a parallel structure – however, interweaving polymer strands have the potential to create much tougher, lighter and more flexible materials in the same way that weaving threads does in our everyday world.
“Some polymers, such as spider silk, can be twice as strong as steel so braiding polymer strands may lead to new generations of light, super-strong and flexible materials for fabrication and construction.”
Professor Leigh said he and his team were delighted to have achieved this scientific landmark.
He explained the process behind their success: “We ‘tied’ the molecular knot using a technique called ‘self-assembly’, in which molecular strands are woven around metal ions, forming crossing points in the right places just like in knitting – and the ends of the strands were then fused together by a chemical catalyst to close the loop and form the complete knot.
“The eight-crossings molecular knot is the most complex regular woven molecule yet made by scientists.”
Graphene Flagship researchers from Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at The University of Manchester, have used graphene to make a polysilicone polymer, known commonly as the novelty children’s material Silly Putty®, conduct electricity. Using this conductive polymer they found that they were about to create sensitive electromechanical sensors.
The team’s findings have been published in the journal Science*.
This research, led by Professor Jonathan Coleman, Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with Professor Robert Young of The University of Manchester, potentially offers exciting possibilities for applications in new, inexpensive devices and diagnostics in healthcare and other sectors.
Professor Coleman, Investigator in AMBER and Trinity’s School of Physics along with postdoctoral researcher Conor Boland (both seen in the image below), discovered that the electrical resistance of putty infused with graphene (‘G-putty’) was extremely sensitive to the slightest deformation or impact, having a gauge factor >500. They mounted the G-putty onto the chest and neck of human subjects and used it to measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure. It showed unprecedented sensitivity as a sensor for strain and pressure, hundreds of times more sensitive than current sensors. The G-putty also works as a very sensitive impact sensor, able to detect the footsteps of small spiders.
Professor Coleman said: “What we are excited about is the unexpected behaviour we found when we added graphene to the polymer, a cross-linked polysilicone. This material is well known as the children’s toy Silly Putty. It is different from familiar materials in that it flows like a viscous liquid when deformed slowly but bounces like an elastic solid when thrown against a surface. When we added the graphene to the silly putty, it caused it to conduct electricity, but in a very unusual way. The electrical resistance of the G-putty was very sensitive to deformation with the resistance increasing sharply on even the slightest strain or impact. Unusually, the resistance slowly returned close to its original value as the putty self-healed over time.”
He continued, “While a common application has been to add graphene to plastics in order to improve the electrical, mechanical, thermal or barrier properties, the resultant composites have generally performed as expected without any great surprises. The behaviour we found with G-putty has not been found in any other composite material. This unique discovery will open up major possibilities in sensor manufacturing worldwide.”
In their paper the team show that following the addition of graphene to the polymer it not only became conductive (reaching approximately 0.1 S/m at approximately 15 volume % of graphene) but importantly, it retained its viscoelasticity characteristics. The graphene sheets are able to respond to polymeric deformation in a time dependant manor, forming networks that break and reform during mechanical deformation. This changes the conductivity of the polymeric material, enabling it to sense by deformation.
Following the initial development work at Trinity College Dublin scientists at the NGI at The University of Manchester analysed the structure of the material and were able to develop a mathematical model of the deformation of the material which explains the effect of its structure upon its mechanical and electrical properties.
Robert Young, Professor of Polymer Science and Technology at the NGI said: “The endless list of potential applications of graphene, never ceases to amaze me. We have now developed a new high-performance sensing material, ‘G-putty’, that can monitor deformation, pressure and impact at a level of sensitivity that is so precise that it allows even the footsteps of small spiders to be monitored.
“It will have many future applications in sensors, particularly in the field of healthcare. The collaboration has been undertaken under the umbrella of the European Graphene Flagship, in which Trinity College Dublin and The University of Manchester both play a prominent role. It is an excellent example of what is being achieved in the Flagship programme.”
Learn more: G-Putty sensors – an unexpected breakthrough
Researchers at The University of Manchester have discovered that a potential new drug reduces the number of brain cells destroyed by stroke and then helps to repair the damage.
A reduction in blood flow to the brain caused by stroke is a major cause of death and disability, and there are few effective treatments.
A team of scientists at The University of Manchester has now found that a potential new stroke drug not only works in rodents by limiting the death of existing brain cells but also by promoting the birth of new neurones (so-called neurogenesis).
This finding provides further support for the development of this anti-inflammatory drug, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra in short), as a new treatment for stroke. The drug is already licensed for use in humans for some conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Several early stage clinical trials in stroke with IL-1Ra have already been completed in Manchester, though it is not yet licensed for this condition.
In the research, published in the biomedical journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, the researchers show that in rodents with a stroke there is not only reduced brain damage early on after the stroke, but several days later increased numbers of new neurones, when treated with the anti-inflammatory drug IL-1Ra.
Previous attempts to find a drug to prevent brain damage after stroke have proved unsuccessful and this new research offers the possibility of a new treatment.
Importantly, the use of IL-1Ra might be better than other failed drugs in stroke as it not only limits the initial damage to brain cells, but also helps the brain repair itself long-term through the generation of new brain cells.
The results lend further strong support to the use of IL-1Ra in the treatment of stroke, however further large trials are necessaryProfessor Stuart Allan
These new cells are thought to help restore function to areas of the brain damaged by the stroke. Earlier work by the same group showed that treatment with IL-1Ra does indeed help rodents regain motor skills that were initially lost after a stroke. Early stage clinical trials in stroke patients also suggest that IL-1Ra could be beneficial.
Scientists at The University of Manchester have shown for the first time that if the brain is ‘tuned-in’ to a particular frequency, pain can be alleviated.
Chronic pain- pain which lasts for more than six months – is a real problem for many people, with 20-50 % of the general population estimated to suffer from it (comprising 20% of consultations in general practice).
It is a much greater problem in the elderly with 62% of the UK population over 75 year’s old suffering from it. Chronic pain is often a mixture of recurrent acute pains and chronic persistent pain. Unfortunately there are very few treatments available that are completely safe, particularly in the elderly.
Nerve cells on the surface of the brain are co-ordinated with each other at a particular frequency depending on the state of the brain. Alpha waves which are tuned at 9-12 cycles per second have been recently associated with enabling parts of the brain concerned with higher control to influence other parts of the brain.
For instance researchers at the Human Pain Research Group at The University of Manchester found that alpha waves from the front of the brain, the forebrain, are associated with placebo analgesia and may be influencing how other parts of the brain process pain.
This led to the idea that if we can ‘tune’ the brain to express more alpha waves, perhaps we can reduce pain experienced by people with certain conditions.
Dr Kathy Ecsy and her colleagues in The University of Manchester’s Human Pain Research Group have shown that this can be done by providing volunteers with goggles that flash light in the alpha range or by sound stimulation in both ears phased to provide the same stimulus frequency. They found that both visual and auditory stimulation significantly reduced the intensity of pain induced by laser-heat repeatedly shone on the back of the arm.
Professor Anthony Jones is the director of the Manchester Pain Consortium which is focussed on improving the understanding and treatment of chronic pain. He said: “This is very exciting because it provides a potentially new, simple and safe therapy that can now be trialled in patients. At recent public engagements events we have had a lot of enthusiasm from patients for this kind of neuro-therapeutic approach.”
Further studies are required to test the effectiveness in patients with different pain conditions but the simplicity and low cost of the technology should facilitate such clinical studies.
Dr Chris Brown, who is a Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Liverpool, who was involved in the research while working in Manchester, said: “It is interesting that similar results were obtained with visual and auditory stimulation, which will provide some flexibility when taking this technology into patient studies. For instance this might be particularly useful for patients having difficulty sleeping because of recurrent pain at night.”
The paper, ‘Alpha-Range Visual and Auditory Stimulation reduces the Perception of Pain’, was published in the European Journal of Pain.
This is very exciting because it provides a potentially new, simple and safe therapy that can now be trialled in patients
Professor Anthony Jones
Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at The University of Manchester report.
This is due to graphene’s incredible strength – 200 times stronger than steel.
The graphene balloons routinely form when placing graphene on flat substrates and are usually considered a nuisance and therefore ignored. The Manchester researchers, led by Professor Irina Grigorieva, took a closer look at the nano-bubbles and revealed their fascinating properties.
These bubbles could be created intentionally to make tiny pressure machines capable of withstanding enormous pressures. This could be a significant step towards rapidly detecting how molecules react under extreme pressure.
Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists found that the shape and dimensions of the nano-bubbles provide straightforward information about both graphene’s elastic strength and its interaction with the underlying substrate.
The researchers found such balloons can also be created with other two-dimensional crystals such as single layers of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) or boron nitride.
They were able to directly measure the pressure exerted by graphene on a material trapped inside the balloons, or vice versa.
To do this, the team indented bubbles made by graphene, monolayer MoS2 and monolayer boron nitride using a tip of an atomic force microscope and measured the force that was necessary to make a dent of a certain size.
“One can now start thinking about creating these baloons intentionally to change materials or study the properties of atomically thin membranes under high strain and pressure.”
Sir Andre Geim
These measurements revealed that graphene enclosing bubbles of a micron size creates pressures as high as 200 megapascals, or 2,000 atmospheres. Even higher pressures are expected for smaller bubbles.
Ekaterina Khestanova, a PhD student who carried out the experiments, said: “Such pressures are enough to modify the properties of a material trapped inside the bubbles and, for example, can force crystallization of a liquid well above its normal freezing temperature’.
Electrons reveal their quantum properties when they are confined to small spaces. Scientists from TU Wien (Vienna), Aachen and Manchester have created tiny quantum dots in Graphene
In a tiny quantum prison, electrons behave quite differently as compared to their counterparts in free space. They can only occupy discrete energy levels, much like the electrons in an atom – for this reason, such electron prisons are often called “artificial atoms”. Artificial atoms may also feature properties beyond those of conventional ones, with the potential for many applications for example in quantum computing. Such additional properties have now been shown for artificial atoms in the carbon material graphene. The results have been published in the journal “Nano Letters”, the project was a collaboration of scientists from TU Wien (Vienna, Austria), RWTH Aachen (Germany) and the University of Manchester (GB).
Building Artificial Atoms
“Artificial atoms open up new, exciting possibilities, because we can directly tune their properties”, says Professor Joachim Burgdörfer (TU Wien, Vienna). In semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide, trapping electrons in tiny confinements has already been shown to be possible. These structures are often referred to as “quantum dots”. Just like in an atom, where the electrons can only circle the nucleus on certain orbits, electrons in these quantum dots are forced into discrete quantum states.
Even more interesting possibilities are opened up by using graphene, a material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms, which has attracted a lot of attention in the last few years. “In most materials, electrons may occupy two different quantum states at a given energy. The high symmetry of the graphene lattice allows for four different quantum states. This opens up new pathways for quantum information processing and storage” explains Florian Libisch from TU Wien. However, creating well-controlled artificial atoms in graphene turned out to be extremely challenging.
Cutting edge is not enough
There are different ways of creating artificial atoms: The simplest one is putting electrons into tiny flakes, cut out of a thin layer of the material. While this works for graphene, the symmetry of the material is broken by the edges of the flake which can never be perfectly smooth. Consequently, the special four-fold multiplicity of states in graphene is reduced to the conventional two-fold one.
Therefore, different ways had to be found: It is not necessary to use small graphene flakes to capture electrons. Using clever combinations of electrical and magnetic fields is a much better option. With the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope, an electric field can be applied locally. That way, a tiny region is created within the graphene surface, in which low energy electrons can be trapped. At the same time, the electrons are forced into tiny circular orbits by applying a magnetic field. “If we would only use an electric field, quantum effects allow the electrons to quickly leave the trap” explains Libisch.
The artificial atoms were measured at the RWTH Aachen by Nils Freitag and Peter Nemes-Incze in the group of Professor Markus Morgenstern. Simulations and theoretical models were developed at TU Wien (Vienna) by Larisa Chizhova, Florian Libisch and Joachim Burgdörfer. The exceptionally clean graphene sample came from the team around Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from Manchester (GB) – these two researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 for creating graphene sheets for the first time.
The new artificial atoms now open up new possibilities for many quantum technological experiments: “Four localized electron states with the same energy allow for switching between different quantum states to store information”, says Joachim Burgdörfer. The electrons can preserve arbitrary superpositions for a long time, ideal properties for quantum computers. In addition, the new method has the big advantage of scalability: it should be possible to fit many such artificial atoms on a small chip in order to use them for quantum information applications.
Learn more: “Artificial Atom“ Created in Graphene
Researchers at The University of Manchester have unlocked the potential of a new test which could revolutionise the way doctors diagnose and monitor a common childhood Leukaemia.
Dr Suzanne Johnson says that cancerous acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cells produce and release special structures that can be traced in the blood.
The discovery could have major implications on the diagnosis, monitoring, drug delivery and treatment of childhood leukaemia.
Dr Johnson publishes the research, which was led by Professor of Paediatric Oncology Vaskar Saha, in the leading journal Blood. This research received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development, and demonstration (Grant agreement no. 278514 – IntReALL); a program grant fromCancer Research UK; and a Bloodwise project grant. Professor Saha is the recipient of an India Alliance Margdarshi Fellowship
Until recently, the ‘Extracellular Vesicles’, as they are known, were thought to be worthless debris. Dr Johnson investigated their presence in the plasma from bone marrow biopsies and discovered their ability to circulate in the blood using mice.
Though there is an 85 to 90% success rate in treatment, children must endure repeat bone marrow biopsies to assess the progress of treatment.
But the researchers hope this discovery might reduce the frequency of the painful procedures, which can also cause bruising, bleeding and infection.
Vesicles, which contain the protein actin and have identifiable characteristics of their parent cell, are typified by branching structures beautifully shown in images produced by the team.
Our research has shown that cancerous Leukaemia cells have the ability to package parts of themselves and then send these structure – vesicles – to anywhere in the body though the blood. That opens up a world of possibilities in terms of monitoring the progress of the disease and making diagnosis quickly and efficiently
Dr Suzanne Johnson
Dr Johnson said: “Our discovery of Extracellular Vesicles could be a game changer in terms of the way we care for children with lymphoblastic leukaemia.
“Our research has shown that cancerous Leukaemia cells have the ability to package parts of themselves and then send these structure – vesicles – to anywhere in the body though the blood.
“That opens up a world of possibilities in terms of monitoring the progress of the disease and making diagnosis quickly and efficiently. They are also internalised by other cells and act as an effective route for cell communication.
“Now the challenge is to investigate whether other cancers produce and release these structures as well.”
Further down the road, the discovery could have implications on the way drugs are delivered to patients, explains to Dr Johnson, if we can find a way to combine them with the vesicles.
And the team also hope that the vesicles might provide individualised information about the tumours, eventually helping doctors to deliver personalised care.
She added: “What is amazing is that Vesicles were previously dismissed as mere debris from the cancerous cell, but we now realise this absolutely not the case. They are far more interesting than that!”
Experiments that could before only be performed in a handful of national high magnetic field laboratories can now be done at just about any research university
The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, with facilities in Florida and New Mexico, offers scientists access to enormous machines that create record-setting magnetic fields. The strong magnetic fields help researchers probe the fundamental structure of materials to better understand and manipulate their properties. Yet large-scale facilities like the MagLab are scarce, and scientists must compete with others for valuable time on the machines.
Now researchers from the United Kingdom, in collaboration with industry partners from Germany, have built a tabletop instrument that can perform measurements that were only previously possible at large national magnet labs. The measurements will help in the development of next generation electronic devices employing 2-D materials, said Ben Spencer, a post-doctoral research associate working in Darren Graham’s group at the University of Manchester’s Photon Science Institute, who helped develop the new instrument.
The researchers describe their work in a paper in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.
A University of Manchester biologist has for the first time established that the painful and debilitating symptoms endured by osteoarthritis sufferers are intrinsically linked to the human body clock.
- Symptoms of osteoarthritis linked to human body clock
- Study could in years to come pave the way for drug treatment
- As we age, our cartilage cell body clocks deteriorate
The study, led by Dr Qing-Jun Meng, who is a Senior Research Fellow for Arthritis Research UK, could in the years to come, pave the way for drug treatment of the joint condition that affects 8 million people in the UK.
His research findings, jointly funded by Arthritis Research UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC), are published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
He said: “Despite the best efforts of doctors and scientists, we have a poor understanding of osteoarthritis: sadly, pain relief and joint replacement surgery seem to be the only option for patients.
“So the prospect of fundamental treatment is very exciting- even though it’s still probably years away.”
Dr Meng discovered that body clocks within cartilage cells – or chondrocytes- control thousands of genes which segregate different biological activities at different times of the day.
The body clock, he realised, controls the equilibrium between when chondrocyte cells are repaired during rest and when they are worn down through activity.
But his research revealed that as we age, our cartilage cell body clocks deteriorate, making the repair function insufficient, which could contribute to osteoarthritis.
Despite the best efforts of doctors and scientists, we have a poor understanding of osteoarthritis: sadly, pain relief and joint replacement surgery seem to be the only option for patients. So the prospect of fundamental treatment is very exciting- even though it’s still probably years away.
Dr Qing-Jun Meng
Dr Meng’s team examined three types of human cartilage under the microscope : normal, mildly affected by osteoarthritis and severely affected.
As the osteoarthritis became more severe, the number of cells that express BMAL1 – a protein which controls the body clock – became less and less.
And in terms of aging, he found similar reduction of BMAL1 in chondrocytes, which coincided with the reduced ‘amplitude’ of the body clock (up to 40% weaker in older mice), supporting the theory that aging, at least partially through dysregulation of the chondrocyte clocks, is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis.
Chronic inflammation is another factor which can increase the risk of contracting the disease, according to Dr Meng.
And in an American study on mice he participated in earlier in the year, weekly reversal of the light dark cycle, a condition that simulated rotating shift work or severe jet lag, could also disrupt the body clock- making the disease more of a risk.
He added: “Now we have identified a link between the human body clock and osteoarthritis, this could unlock the prospect of drugs which reset the body clock mechanism.
“Scientists are already developing drugs which can act in this way for other conditions. Now, osteoarthritis can be part of this effort.
“But there are other body clock related approaches which can help osteoarthritis sufferers: eating and exercising at set regular times each day is also something we think is a good idea.
“Using heat pads that approximate body temperature changes in cartilage tissue – which are too governed by the body clock- are also potentially useful.”
Professor Ray Boot-Handford, who is also a senior author of this study, commented: “This study, delivered by an international team led by Dr Meng, demonstrates the important role the body clock plays in keeping our joints healthy. The findings open up new avenues for understanding and developing treatments for osteoarthritis.”
Stephen Simpson, director of research and programmes at Arthritis Research UK said: “Many people with arthritis find that their symptoms get worse at certain times of the day and the results of this interesting and exciting study reveal a likely biological basis to this effect.
ARTHRITIS sufferers could be offered cartilage replacements within five years after a breakthrough by British scientists.
Treatment for the crippling condition is currently limited to basic pain relief or complex joint replacement surgery.
But trials using stem cells have shown “astonishing” results with tissue almost as good as new after just three months.
Professor Sue Kimber, who led the research, said: “This work represents an important step forward in treating cartilage damage using embryonic stem cells to form new tissue.
“It may offer a new line of therapy for people with crippling joint pain and we now need this process to be developed for patients.”
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage at the ends of bones wears away causing severe pain and stiffness.
Researchers say the latest experiments show the procedure could potentially be a “safe and effective treatment” for more than eight million people who suffer from joint damage and inflammation.
In the experiments, led by teams at Manchester University and Arthritis Research UK, discarded embryonic stem cells from IVF clinics were transformed into cartilage cells.
These were transplanted into rats with defective joints.
Tests showed the high-quality artificially grown tissue quickly aided the repair of the joint.
The experiments have excited researchers because they were able to generate new healthy-looking cartilage without signs of damaging side effects.
Although cartilage cells created from adult stem cells are being used experimentally they cannot be produced in large amounts because the procedure is prohibitively expensive.
But embryonic stem cells’ capacity to multiply quickly offers the possibility of high-volume cartilage production.