Research on horses is providing clues to tendon injuries

July 6, 2012

Topic: orthopaedics

Researchers are using tissue samples from horses to study tendon injuries in humans.

A team of scientists discovered that a component of the tendons known as the interfascicular matrix (IFM) may be important for the health and function of these tissues, as published in the journal Interface. These findings may be relevant to orthopaedics issues that involve these connective structures.

In order to get a better understanding of how tendon injuries occur in humans, researchers from Queen Mary, University of London examined tissue samples collected from horses. These animals experience tendon injuries about as much as humans do.

Specifically, the scientists looked at damage to the superficial digital flexor tendon, which is similar to an injury in a human's Achilles tendon. Laboratory testing revealed that a healthy IFM gave the tendon optimal ability to stretch.

"If we are able to manipulate the IFM, we could potentially design a diagnostic test to see whether someone is more susceptible to tendon injury than others, and also pave the way for prospective treatments," said study co-author Hazel Screen.

The IFM was previously thought to be unimportant. However, the new study may have implications for future treatments of tendon injuries.

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