Grant Could Offer New Tissue Engineering Approach to Rotator Cuff Repair

Helen H. Lu, professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, has won a three-year $1.125 million Translational Research Award grant from the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs for her research on tendon-to-bone integration for rotator cuff repair. Lu is collaborating with William Levine, chairman and Frank E. Stinchfield Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center. The funding, part of the DoD’s Orthopaedic Research Program, will support preclinical trials to test the potential of a nanofiber-based device to enable biological healing between tendon and bone post rotator cuff surgery.

“This is the culmination of our decade-long, interdisciplinary collaboration on integrative rotator cuff repair,” Lu said. “What is truly exciting is that the work planned in this new project will bring our novel technology another major step closer to clinical realization.”

Rotator cuff tears represent the most common shoulder injury, with more than 600,000 repair procedures performed annually in the U.S. Among military personnel, the incidence of shoulder injuries is more than twice that of the general population. The rotator cuff tendon-to-bone insertion is often the site of injury when the cuff tendon tears. Current repair aims to surgically reconnect the torn tendon to the humerus. However mechanical fixation of the tendon fail to promote its integration with bone, and this inability contributes significantly to the high re-tear rate following cuff surgery.


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