Athletes know that damage to a tendon can signal an end to their professional careers. But a consortium of scientists, led in part by USC School of Dentistry researcher Songtao Shi, has identified unique cells within the adult tendon that have stem-cell characteristicsÑžincluding the ability to proliferate and self-renew. The research team was able to isolate these cells and regenerate tendon-like tissue in the animal model. Their findings hold tremendous promise for the treatment of tendon injuries caused by overuse and trauma.
Prior to this research, little existed on the cellular makeup of tendons and their precursors. By looking at tendons at the molecular level, the research team identified a unique cell populationÒ‘termed tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSPCs) in both mice and adult humansÒ‘that when guided by a certain molecular environment, form into tendon cells.