UTSA and Southwest Research Institute to collaborate on biomedical research

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Achilles tendon

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(June 2, 2011)--The UTSA Office of the Vice President for Research and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announce an award of $200,000 in FY 2013 Connect program funding to UTSA Peter T. Flawn Professor of Biomedical Engineering Rena Bizios and SwRI Senior Research Scientists Vicky Poenitzsch and Xingguo Cheng for their collaborative research proposal, "Novel Scaffolds for Tendon-Ligament Regeneration and Tissue Engineering Applications."

The funding will support the researchers in designing, fabricating and establishing the efficacy of new scaffolds for tendon-ligament repair and regeneration.

Tendon-ligament injuries are one of the most common orthopedic injuries in people of all age groups, creating a great clinical need, demand and market for tendon-ligament repair technologies. Overall, patients suffer approximately 32 million repetitive and traumatic tendon-ligament injuries each year, an incidence that will increase due to the aging population in the United States.

Beyond a large civilian market, tendon-ligament injuries also are common to military personnel because of demanding exercise, heavy-duty work and battlefield injuries. However, the biological and synthetic tendon-ligament replacements that are available currently have a host of limitations.

Over the next year, UTSA and SwRI researchers will fabricate unique collagen-carbon nanotube (CNT) composite macrostructures with tunable biochemical and biomechanical properties. The researchers will evaluate their efficacy for biomedical applications (such as tendon-ligament repair) by establishing their cytocompatibility in vitro using cultured adult mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) models and researching functions of the cells pertinent to new tissue formation.

"Connect funding supports collaborative research at UTSA and Southwest Research Institute that has the potential to make a significant and long-lasting impact in health, energy, security or another significant industry," said Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research. "Tendon and ligament injuries are very serious concerns that affect millions of people every year. We are eager to see the impact of this seed funding as the researchers move forward with their investigations."

"As our population ages, we are increasingly interested in translational research that can accelerate the movement of new discoveries in basic medical research into medical practice," said SwRI Executive Vice President Walter D. Downing. "Through the Connect program, we are exploring approaches to bridge the gap between basic research and applied research."

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About Southwest Research Institute

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization. The staff of more than 3,000 specializes in the creation and transfer of technology in engineering and the physical sciences. The institute occupies more than 1,200 acres in San Antonio, Texas, and provides more than 2 million square feet of laboratories, test facilities, workshops and offices. SwRI's total revenue for fiscal year 2010 was $548 million.