The typical office worker often experiences pain all over their body due to their sedentary desk work. Young people can also get shoulder pain, which used to be an issue especially in older people.
Once shoulder pain creeps in, it’s difficult to get dressed, let alone move your body freely. Falling asleep is also difficult. While the rotator cuffs often become naturally damaged with age, repairing them has proven difficult.
Through a collaboration with Professor Hak Soo Choi at Harvard Medical School, a Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) research team composed of Professor Dong-Woo Cho, Dr. Suhun Chae and Jinah Jang and 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 precisely replicate the intricate structure of rotator cuffs, is 3D bioprinted using tissue-specific extracellular matrix bio-ink.
The international journal Bioactive Materials recently published the results of this study, which could potentially bring new hope to sufferers of chronic shoulder pain.
The study team transplanted this platform into rats with rotator cuff injuries. Researchers observed tissue regeneration and repair in shoulder function. The results proved that the platform containing stem cells can indeed regenerate rotator cuffs.
Specifically, researchers combined tissue-specific bioimaging tools with near-infrared fluorescence imaging to visualize this process. With this technique, the researchers were able to track anatomical change and regeneration processes in the animal model in real time and non-invasively.
This platform provides a microenvironment and components that resemble those of the actual tissue. Therefore, once used in patients, it is expected to have high treatment benefit and eventual shoulder function recovery.
It is particularly beneficial for patients unable to use autologous tissue for rotator cuff regeneration by providing a tailored 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 USA.
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