Research grants could improve patients' recovery from athletic and nonathletic injuries

Two orthopedic organizations have presented Beaumont Health System with prestigious, competitive research grants that could improve patients' recovery from both athletic and nonathletic injuries.

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine awarded a $40,000 grant to fund stem cell-based research that could help prevent osteoarthritis after sports injuries like a ruptured knee anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. According to the National Institutes of Health, "An anterior cruciate ligament injury is the over-stretching or tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. A tear may be partial or complete." These kinds of injuries typically happen when someone hits the side of an athlete's knee or when an athlete stops quickly and changes direction while running, jumping or turning. This type of injury occurs more frequently in women.

Beaumont researchers and doctors will study how the body's stem cells react to an ACL rupture. Then, they will search for ways to redirect those stem cells to help the injury heal, without removing the stem cells from the patient's body. It's called "in situ" tissue engineering.

"When we say in situ tissue engineering, we are saying that we can initiate the regeneration and/or healing of tissues without doing anything outside of the body. Our approach involves the administration of a drug that causes the patient's stem cells to leave bone marrow temporarily and enter the circulation. We then deliver a signal, called a chemokine, locally that recruits those circulating stem cells to the desired site. Once they get there, we have scaffolds that will give the stem cells cues on how to heal or regenerate an injured tissue," says Orthopaedic Research Laboratories Director Kevin Baker, Ph.D.

At Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, orthopedic surgeons perform more than 14,000 surgical procedures every year. Beaumont Health System is leading the research, but also collaborating with the University of Michigan.

In addition, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society awarded a $20,000 grant to study another stem cell-based technique that could improve patients' ability to heal from the rupture of an Achilles tendon. According to the NIH, "The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Together, they help you push your heel off the ground and go up on your toes. You use these muscles and your Achilles tendon when you walk, run, and jump." After a rupture, an athlete's recovery time can stretch anywhere from a few weeks to an entire season. All research for this grant will take place at Beaumont Health System.

Dr. Baker expects to have some results from the studies within the next year. However, the research will continue well beyond that timeframe. "I think we have a real potential to bring a new treatment into the clinics and operating rooms, which will require extensive preclinical and clinical testing," Dr. Baker says.

The Following Individuals Collaborated On The Projects:

Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis (Grant from American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine):

  • Perry Altman, MD (Beaumont)
  • Kyle Anderson, MD (Beaumont)
  • Kevin Baker, Ph.D (Beaumont)
  • Asheesh Bedi, MD (U-Michigan)
  • Tristan Maerz, MS (Beaumont)

Achilles Tendon Repair (Grant from American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society):

  • Erin Baker, MS (Beaumont)
  • Kevin Baker, PhD (Beaumont)
  • Shannon Carpenter, MD (Beaumont)
  • Paul Fortin, MD (Beaumont)


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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