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Freeze-dried tendon implants prove effective in early studies
Date:1/8/2008

eral, gene therapy inserts genes into cells, where they direct the target cells own genetic machinery to make a desired protein. In the current study, the inserted gene called for the building of a growth factor that directs cells to divide and tissues to grow, or heal. To deliver genes into cells, gene therapies rely on viruses (vectors) designed by evolution to penetrate human cells and insert their own DNA. Viral vectors retain this ability, but have been harnessed to deliver therapeutic genes. Specifically, Awads team implanted into the distal flexor digitorum longus (FDL) tendons of mice a freeze-dried allograft loaded with a recombinant adeno-associated vector (rAAV) expressing the gene that codes for the building of growth and differentiation factor 5 (Gdf5). A control group received an allograft loaded with a non-therapeutic gene (lacZ). Functional recovery was then compared between groups.

In past studies, rAAV vectors have proven to be safe because they make temporary changes to DNA, but then stop before too much re-growth can pose cancer risk. GDF5 was chosen because it is known to direct the formation of tendon in the womb. Similar to skin, tendons heal via the formation of a scar, but that process in tendon leads to imperfect tissue growth that adheres to the joint and compromises function. The hope was that adding extra GDF5 would help, and the data indeed show that animals with freeze-dried FDL allografts loaded with rAAV Gdf5 recovered twice the range of motion when compared to the control group at 14 days post surgery. At 28 days after surgery, the allograft group had reached nearly 65 percent of the normal range of motion, compared to the control group, which had recovered only 35 percent of the normal range.

Current rehabilitation programs take advantage of the fact that the gliding and stretching of tendon as it heals has been shown to accelerate healing. Various forms of passive, controlled motion (physical therapy) are common
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-1757
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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