Dr. Frank Petrigliano

A research team led by Dr. Frank Petrigliano, member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, has identified specialized cells that have the potential to regenerate injured ligament tissue in the knee.

The research was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research on December 16, 2015.

The cells reside in the human anterior cruciate ligament – commonly known as the ACL. ACL tears are one of the most common knee injuries in the U.S. with over 300,000 reconstructions performed annually.

“I see patients all the time who struggle with ACL tears that are painful and greatly affect their mobility and quality of life,” said Petrigliano, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and an investigator with the UCLA Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center. “Currently, the ACL cannot be repaired; it must be replaced with either a patient’s own knee tendon tissue or donated tissue.”

Petrigliano’s research interests are aimed at developing new approaches for replacing the human ACL and other ligaments within the body with tissue produced from a patient’s own stem cells.

“Our research describes three unique stem cell populations that reside in the human ACL,” said Petrigliano. “These cells have the capacity to multiply and synthesize collagen, meaning they may have the potential to regenerate injured ligament tissue.”

The next step in Petrigliano’s research is to further test the newly discovered stem cells to see if they are capable of engrafting and generating new ligament tissue.

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Mirabai Vogt-James
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