April 04, 2006
Genetically Engineered Stem Cells Repair Rat Tendon

Israeli researchers engineered mesenchymal stem cells to repair tendons.

Weekend athletes who overexert themselves running or playing basketball may one day reap the benefits of research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that shows that adult stem cells can be used to make new tendon or ligament tissue.

Tendon and ligament injuries present a major clinical challenge to orthopedic medicine. In the United States, at least 200,000 patients undergo tendon or ligament repair each year. Moreover, the intervertebral disc, which is composed in part of tendon-like tissue, tends to degenerate with age, leading to the very common phenomenon of low-back pain affecting a major part of the population.

Until the present time, therapeutic options used to repair torn ligaments and tendons have consisted of tissue grafting and synthetic prostheses, but as yet, none of these alternatives has provided a successful long-term solution.

A novel approach for tendon regeneration is reported in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Researchers Prof. Dan Gazit and colleagues at the Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory at the Hebrew University Faculty of Dental Medicine engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which reside in the bone marrow and fat tissues, to express a protein called Smad8 and another called BMP2.

When the researchers implanted these cells into torn Achilles tendons of rats they found that the cells not only survived the implantation process, but also were recruited to the site of the injury and were able to repair the tendon. The cells changed their appearance to look more like tendon cells (tenocytes), and significantly increased production of collagen, a protein critical for creating strong yet flexible tendons and ligaments.

An advance in imaging technology made it possible to measure and confirm the tendon repair.

Lots of technologies are advancing in ways that support more rapid development of stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and other newer kinds of therapies. The rate of advance of biotechnology will continue to accelerate.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 April 04 10:23 PM  Biotech Tissue Engineering


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