By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
Rotator cuff tears represent a large proportion of musculoskeletal injuries attended by clinics, thereby making rotator cuff repair surgeries one of the most widely performed musculoskeletal procedures. Despite the high incidence rate of rotator cuff tears, operative treatments have provided minimal functional gains and suffer from high re-tear rates.
I am happy to report that recent data from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering suggest that the regenerative engineering technique can be useful for improved healing of torn rotator cuff tendons. Specifically, our team used a nano-based biomaterial matrix conducive to growing stem cells, and combined it with adult stem cells. The results are promising, but our group must continue working for some time before the process can be applied to humans. Our results were published in the prestigious journal PLoS One earlier this month. The paper represents a novel treatment paradigm for the treatment of massive rotator cuff tendon tears. In addition, our work has been highlighted by the NIH Research Matters. Thanks to the NIH, the NSF and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation for their support of our work.