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Tendon Injury: A glitch in the Matrix

19 March 2020

Time: 6:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Mile End campus

We all rely on the health of our musculoskeletal tissues for any activity that requires the ability to move. This includes everything from getting out of bed to running a marathon. These remarkable natural materials, which include bone, muscle, cartilage, ligament and tendon, are able to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life, lasting for a lifetime.

Our musculoskeletal tissues are made of active, living cells, which reside in a matrix, and it is the matrix which provides structure and mechanical function to the tissue. The cells generate and subsequently maintain the matrix; they detect the surrounding environment and respond by altering the composition and properties of the matrix to meet external demands. In musculoskeletal tissues, this process is dominated by response to mechanical stresses and strains, and we see this process occurring when we build muscle and bone strength through exercise.

Perhaps the tissue matrix does live up to its cinematic double. In the film, the matrix provides an enclosure for people, providing for their needs, but relying on them to power life. In our tissues, the matrix provides structure and surroundings for our cells, and the cells are expected to maintain and support it. But what happens when the system is disturbed? How do injuries arise? Herein lies a tale of how mechanical loading can generate localised failure in the matrix, leads to an uprising from the surrounding cells and disruption of that calm, homeostatic environment. Let’s explore that tale, and the ways in which we can prevent or rapidly contain an uprising. Perhaps we do want to keep our cells harmlessly plugged into the matrix…..

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