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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
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Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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A Stride Forward for Knee Repair
14 July 1997 7:00 pm
Athletes can live with muscle strains, but a torn ligament or tendon is serious business. Each year, surgeons in the United States perform about 500,000 operations on tendons and ligaments, which usually heal slowly and incompletely. But faster, better healing may be on the way: A report in today's Journal of Clinical Investigation describes proteins that, at least in rats, promote the growth of these connective tissues.
The findings emerge from studies of bone repair. For years, Vicki Rosen and colleagues at the Genetics Institute Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have been experimenting with proteins that induce undifferentiated stem cells to divide and form new bone. They have produced the factors using recombinant DNA technology and implanted them under the skin and into muscles of rats, where they cause new bone tissue to form. Doctors have also successfully used these factors as an experimental treatment for serious bone fractures in more than 1000 human patients worldwide.
During their investigations on rats, Rosen's team was surprised to find that three proteins in the bone-inducing family--called growth and differentiation factors 5, 6, and 7--triggered growth of what appeared to be connective tissue, not bone. Under the electron microscope, for example, they found the induced tissues "showed a highly ordered arrangement of collagen bundles," forming fibers about the size of those found in tendons and ligaments. "These proteins might have a really significant ability to repair injured tendons and ligaments," Rosen says.
The work has impressed experts, including Marshall Urist of the University of California, Los Angeles, who discovered bone-inducing factors over 30 years ago. If confirmed, these new growth and differentiation factors could lead to great advances in orthopedic surgery, he says: "In the 21st century, surgeons may be using them for repair of tendons and ligaments."