Human Soft Tissue Research Laboratory

The Human Soft Tissue Research Laboratory was established in 2004 and is now housed in the state-of-the-art UConn Musculoskeletal Institute. The laboratories include Biomechanics, Human Cell and Tissue Biology, and Clinical Trials and Outcomes in Orthopaedics.

Mission Statement: The Human Soft Tissue Research Laboratory strives to achieve scientific excellence with an emphasis on translational research to enhance patient well being with a commitment to broaden education in the orthopaedic community.

This involves utilizing human tissue and examining cellular responses in order to investigate and test novel biomaterials that are biologically compatible and clinically relevant.

The three components of our lab are:

Biomechanics

Human Cell and Tissue Biology

From the operating room to the cell culture plate, scientists in the Human Cell and Tissue Biology Laboratory use defined in vitro and in vivo systems to study cellular and animal responses to new and novel biomaterials in rotator cuff repair.One of the most exciting components of the Human Cell and Tissue Laboratory is our ability to receive human tissue samples immediately from our orthopaedic surgeons. From these samples, we are able to isolate and culture primary human osteoblasts, tenocytes, bone marrow stromal cells and chondrocytes.

By utilizing these primary human cells, we can then study quantitative biochemical and molecular biological changes in response to biomaterials. A biomaterial is any material, natural or synthetic, that comprises whole or part of a living structure or biomedical device, which performs, augments, or replaces a natural function. New biomaterials are continuously being manufactured, but the ability to determine their biocompatibility falls short.

In addition, rotator cuff repairs have been shown to have a high biologic failure rate. This observed failure rate compromises the clinical outcome. During the early healing process, the repair is weakest at the attachment site between tendon and bone. Most, if not all, rotator cuff repairs currently use suture to reconnect the torn tendon to the bone. Suture material has been identified as the first possible weak link in the repair chain.

Our laboratory is specifically interested in the augmentation of various biologicals to commercially available suture material. The idea that tendon to bone healing can be enhanced by the modification of the surface of the suture material is a novel approach to this problem.

Clinical Trials and Outcomes in Orthopaedics

We employ a team approach to translational research, posing questions from both our cell and biomechanical laboratories to the clinical care arenas, including surgery, outpatient services and rehabilitation.Our surgeons and clinical teams develop and use new scientific approaches to orthopaedic care. Clinical trials are implemented to test and compare interventions of new surgical approaches, materials, pharmaceuticals, and therapies. Clinical outcome studies include measures that help benchmark our patients’ outcomes with standard of care approaches described in the literature.

Clinical research outreach efforts target communities, in particular sport teams and individuals and groups interested in aging well.