BME Seminar Series: Catherine K. Kuo, Ph.D.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
8:30 a.m.

Goergen Hall 101 (Sloan Auditorium)

"Rational Approaches to Tendon Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Healing"

Catherine K. Kuo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Engineering Department
Tufts University

Abstract: Tendons are critical tissues of the musculoskeletal system that transfer forces from muscle to bone and stabilize joint structures. Despite surgical intervention, injured or diseased tendon is challenged by reparative wound healing responses that result in scar tissue and mechanical dysfunction. This significant challenge has motivated stem cell-based tissue engineering efforts to generate tendon replacements. However, advances have been limited, due in part to an incomplete understanding of tendon development. In particular, there is a need to for effective factors to guide tenogenesis of stem cells and markers to assess progress. Toward that end, we are systematically characterizing spatiotemporal mechanical, biochemical and molecular properties of the developing embryonic tendon microenvironment. Outcomes are identifying embryonic cues to guide and assess stem cell differentiation and neo-tissue formation in 3-dimensional scaffold- and bioreactor-based culture systems. These engineered tissues may be useful as in vivo replacements, and as platforms for research. Another objective of our research is to improve adult tissue healing outcomes based on embryonic tendon scarless healing paradigms. We are investigating how embryonic vs. postnatal tendon fibroblasts respond differentially to inflammatory mediators and mechanical wound healing factors to modulate scarless vs. scarred healing, respectively. Successful outcomes from our studies may advance efforts to enhance tendon healing and regeneration, as well as provide bench-top platforms with which to investigate tissue development, homeostasis, disease and healing.