New Gene Breathrough Could Revolutionize Tendon Injury Treatment

A team consisting of professional researchers from both Japan’s Science and Technology Agency and Tokyo’s Medical and Dental University have discovered something that could be ground breaking for dealing with tendon injuries; a difficult problem that athletes have been suffering from for decades.

The research has produced results which suggest that a particular gene, which is vital in the early stages of tendon development, may be an important factor in keeping the tissue healthy in the later adult stages of the tissue.

A look at tendons

Tendons are made up of collagen fibres, which make the tendon flexible and strong – but once the tendon is completely formed in an adult, there are fewer cells among the fibres to maintain this strength and flexibility. This means that it is more difficult to heal damaged tissue, as there are less protein factories” as they are called.

What was previously known

It was previously known that a gene called MKX is active during the stage in which the embryo is formed. The importance of this is that it initiates the process of turning cells into tendon tissues.

How the new study was conducted

The researchers used CRISPR/Cas9, which is a new gene-editing tool, to manipulate the MKX in the test rats that are often used for research of this nature. As embryonic rat stem cells are particularly difficult in terms of manipulation, this makes the study even more significant.

What the new study found

It was discovered that a lack of MKX speeds up the creation of bone or cartilage cells, leading to what is known as ossification” – a condition where tendon tissue develops bony masses.

According to this new research, when a tendon is stretched, the MKX retaliates by producing more cells that maintain the fibres of the tendon – also known as tenocytes”. This suggests that these findings could lead to gene therapy treatment that could target MKX as a method of strengthening tendons.

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