Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Achilles' Heal

A synthetic hydrogel system that can boost damaged tendon healing

30 December 2022

Achilles' Heal

Perhaps if this research had come just a few millennia earlier, Achilles’ heel wouldn’t have been such a vulnerability. Researchers working to improve recovery for people with tendon and ligament injuries are increasingly interested in synthetic hydrogels – injectable material that can encourage regrowth. There have also been recent strides in techniques that use microparticles to deliver dissolvable factors to the right spot. Now a study has combined these approaches to create a hydrogel system with fibres (pink) and microgels (green) carrying dissolvable factors. Starter cells for regrowth (blue/yellow) were recruited along the fibres, their development helped by both the physical landscape and the delivery of soluble cues in a lab model (pictured) and in ruptured mouse Achilles tendons. If the injection of a hydrogel including fibres and microparticles can boost the body’s ability to repair, recovery time after all too common tendon and ligament injuries could be greatly reduced.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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