Tendons and ligaments have limited repair capacity. Once damaged, tendons and ligaments undergo changes that cause substantial clinical problems including pain, swelling and local stiffness.
Nearly 5 million patients visit a physician for tendon pain each year in the United States. Current therapies are largely palliative. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids are used in combination with conventional physical therapy; and though such therapeutic regimens can provide some beneficial outcomes, they do not cure the conditions.
Our researchers have found that a unique population of cells appears in injured tendons and may represent a major cause of tendon degeneration. They are studying ways in which these cells could instead be redirected to differentiate into normal tendon cells — tenocytes — thus stimulating tendon healing while inhibiting degeneration.
This research is supported by a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and involves a collaboration with clinicians and scientists in Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania.
Primary investigator on this study: Motomi Enomoto-Iwamoto, DDS, PhD
Reviewed by: Maurizio Pacifici, PhD
Date: September 2013