HomeSportsHarvard scientists develop method to restore damaged tendons and muscles

Harvard scientists develop method to restore damaged tendons and muscles

Human shoulder muscles

After using their tissue platform, the researchers observed tissue regeneration and recovery of shoulder function.

New complex tissue platform can restore damaged rotator cuffs

The typical office worker often has pain all over the body due to their sedentary office work. Even young people can develop shoulder pain, which was previously mainly a problem for older people. Once shoulder pain sets in, it’s difficult to get dressed, let alone move freely. It is also difficult to fall asleep. Although rotator cuffs are often naturally damaged with age, repairing them has proven difficult.

POSTECH and Harvard Medical School researchers

The joint research team from POSTECH and Harvard Medical School was responsible for the study. Credit: POSTECH

Through collaboration with Professor Hak Soo Choi of Harvard Medical School, a research team from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) consisting of Professor Dong-Woo Cho, Dr. Suhun Chae and Jinah Jang, as well as Professor Jinah Jang and Ph.D. candidate Uijung Yong, has developed a complex tissue platform that can repair damaged rotator cuffs. This platform, which can accurately replicate the complex structure of the rotator cuff, is 3D bioprinted using tissue-specific extracellular matrix bioink.

The international review Bioactive materials recently published the results of this study, which could potentially give hope to patients suffering from chronic shoulder pain.

The study team transplanted this platform into rats that had full-thickness rotator cuff damage. Researchers observed tissue regeneration and recovery of shoulder function. The results proved that the platform, which includes stem cells, can actually regenerate the rotator cuff.

Notably, the researchers combined tissue-specific bioimaging agents with near-infrared fluorescence imaging to visualize this process. The researchers were able to use this technique to monitor in real time and non-invasively the processes of anatomical change and regeneration in the animal model.

Restoration of the rotator cuff

A graph showing how researchers restored the rotator cuff in the shoulder. Credit: POSTECH

This platform offers a microenvironment and components similar to those of real tissue. Therefore, when applied to patients, it is expected to have high therapeutic benefits and eventual recovery of shoulder function. It is especially beneficial for patients who cannot use autologous tissue to regenerate the rotator cuff by providing a personalized treatment option.

This study was supported by the Nano-materials Core Technology Development project of the National Research Foundation of Korea and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) in the United States.

Reference: “3D Cellular Printing of Gradient Multi-Tissue Interfaces for Rotator Cuff Regeneration” by Suhun Chae, Uijung Yong, Wonbin Park, Yoo-mi Choi, In-Ho Jeon, Homan Kang, Jinah Jang, Hak Soo Choi and Dong-Woo Cho, May 11, 2022, Bioactive materials.
DOI: 10.1016/j.bioactmat.2022.05.004

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