Chavaunne Thorpe has been awarded an Arthritis Research UK Career Development Fellowship to work on "The tendon interfascicular matrix: a mechanically unique tendon progenitor cell niche"
Tendons connect muscle to bone and so keeping them functioning is essential to maintain whole body health. Age-related tendon injuries are common and often heal incompletely, resulting in loss of function and/or re-injury. Cells that repair damaged tissue are known as stem-progenitor cells; while studies have shown that these cells are present in tendon, not very much is known about them. This has limited the development of effective treatments for tendon injury.
Chavaunne's recent studies indicate that a specific region of tendon, the interfascicular matrix (IFM), which has unique mechanical properties, may provide a niche for the stem-progenitor cells. Her work will address the idea that the unique mechanical environment within the IFM provides a niche for the tendon stem-progenitor cells. Her Fellowship will test this idea by answering the following questions:
1. Where are the tendon stem-progenitor cells located?
2. What is the role of these cells in maintaining healthy tendon?
3. How do the stem-progenitor cells respond to injury?
4. What are the mechanical conditions needed to stimulate these cells to repair damage?
The new insights Chavaunne's work will reveal will give us an in-depth knowledge of the tendon stem-progenitor cells and will determine how these cells maintain healthy tendon and respond to injury. In the short term, these findings will provide targets for future studies to manipulate tendon stem-progenitor cells to enhance tendon healing and repair. Long term, this research will benefit clinicians and patients, contributing to the development of effective cell-based therapies for the treatment of tendon injuries.