The results of this study, which were just published in the international journal Bioactive Materials, might provide people with persistent shoulder pain fresh hope.
The 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 U.S.
Due to the sedentary desk jobs, shoulder pain, which was formerly largely a concern for elderly people, can now affect even young people. When shoulder pain sets in, it becomes difficult to get dressed and even more so to walk around freely. It is sometimes challenging to go to sleep. While the rotator cuffs are frequently damaged by ageing naturally, fixing them has proven to be challenging.
A research team from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), composed of Professor Dong-Woo Cho, Dr. Suhun Chae, Jinah Jang, as well as Professor Jinah Jang and Ph.D. candidate Uijung Yong, has created a complex tissue platform that can repair damaged rotator cuffs in cooperation with Professor Hak Soo Choi at the Harvard Medical School. This platform is 3D-bioprinted using extracellular matrix bioink that is unique to the tissue in order to recreate the complicated structure of rotator cuffs precisely.
This platform was implanted in rats with full-thickness rotator cuff injuries by the research team. The function of the shoulder was discovered to restore and regenerate tissue. The outcomes demonstrated that the stem cell-based platform can in fact rebuild rotator cuffs.
Notably, the researchers used near-infrared fluorescence imaging along with tissue-specific bioimaging agents to visualise this process. This method allowed the researchers to non-invasively and in real time observe the animal model’s anatomical alteration and regeneration processes.
This platform offers a microenvironment and components similar to those of the actual tissue. Therefore, once applied to patients, it is expected to have high treatment benefits and eventual recovery of shoulder function. It is particularly beneficial for those patients who cannot use autologous tissues to regenerate rotator cuffs by providing a customized treatment option.