Imaging the development of a bone to bone ligament construct

Project completed 2014

Professor Liam Grover, School of Chemical Engineering
Dr Hamid Dehghani, School of Computer Science
Professor Paula Mendes, School of Chemical Engineering

Ligaments and tendons play a crucial role in maintaining mobility and are adapted such that mechanical failure is a relative rarity. The structure of a ligament from the molecular to the macroscopic level is critical to mechanical performance, enabling load transfer across the while ligament as opposed to load being focussed at the interface between the two. Despite an understanding of the importance of this level of structuring in maintaining mechanical integrity, the precise compositional graduation between hard and soft tissues is still poorly understood.A major barrier to our understanding of this important interface is the necessity to either dehydrate or demineralise specimens prior to analysis.In this project, we are developing novel methods to enable the chemical imaging of hydrated specimens using a range of techniques, including confocal Raman microscopy, micro computer tomography and scanning electron microscopy. This work will enable us to precisely identify the composition of calcium minerals and other soft-tissue matrix components such as glycosaminoglycans and determine their spatial distribution.To accomplish this, it will be necessary to adapt existing methods of sample preparation and analysis and to develop new algorithms to process the large data sets generated by the above imaging technologies, enabling us to provide an unparalleled insight into the structure of the hard/soft tissue interface and identify novel treatments for ligament and tendon repair.

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