New research is underway that could dramatically improve surgical shoulder repairs.
The rotator cuff tendon connects the ball and socket joint. When it's damaged, it deteriorates and it may be impossible to repair. Surgeons now think they have a solution a bioengineered tendon could replace the damaged tissue. At the University of North Carolina Medical School, scientists are trying to find a way to allow the rotator cuff tendon to heal better and withstand a more rigorous physical therapy program.
"We will take human cells, put it in a three-dimensional gel, and fabricate this bioartificial tendon," says Dr. Albert Banes, at the University of North Carol School of Medicine.
Dr. Banes says steroids actually make the bioartificial tissue stronger and more resistant to breakage so does the use of spider silk, which is very strong, and can withstand natural forces in the body.
Researchers hope this same technology can eventually be used to develop bioengineered ligaments and other tissues, including skin.