Combating Wear and Tear
University of Utah bioengineers detect early signs of damage in connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage
22-Mar-2017//University of Utah
By the time someone realizes they damaged a ligament, tendon or cartilage from too much exercise or other types of physical activity, it’s too late. The tissue is stretched and torn and the person is writhing in pain.
But a team of researchers led by University of Utah bioengineering professors Jeffrey Weiss and Michael Yu has discovered that damage to collagen, the main building block of all human tissue, can occur much earlier at a molecular level from too much physical stress, alerting doctors and scientists that a patient is on the path to major tissue damage and pain.
This could be especially helpful for some who want to know earlier if they are developing diseases such as arthritis or for athletes who want to know if repeated stress on their bodies is taking a toll.
“The scientific value of this is high because collagen is everywhere,” Yu says. “When we are talking about this mechanical damage, we’re talking about cartilage and tendons and even heart valves that move all the time. There are so many tissues which involve collagen that can go bad mechanically. This issue is important for understanding many injuries and diseases.”
The team’s research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published this week in the latest issue of Nature Communications.
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