U of Delaware research could aid in prevention of joint injuries

University of Delaware, assistant professor of biomedical engineering Megan Killian is using novel methods to study muscle activity during the maturation and healing of the rotator cuff, the group of muscles and tissues that helps to keep the shoulder joint in place, according to a university article.
Killian recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health for this work.

“The main thrust of this research is focused on how tendons and their attachments to bone are formed and remodeled with loading from active muscle contractions,” Killian said in the article. Killian is a BMES member.

She is addressing problems with how the enthesis, the graded attachment site between the tendon and bone, forms in response to muscle loading, a critical factor in its development.

Enthesis tissue mature with muscle contraction, so Killian is pioneering new experimental approaches to induce controlled muscle activity during growth, according to the article. To do this, she is using optogenetics, a technique that utilizes light to cause activatable cells, likes neurons and myocytes, to depolarize and contract with exposure to blue light.

“This is novel because now, instead of unloading the muscle, we can overload the muscle, even if it's denervated, and potentially reverse the effects of brachial plexus injuries,” she said.

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