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J Gene Med. 2003 Feb;5(2):93-108.

Gene therapy and tissue engineering for sports medicine.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Growth and Development Laboratory, 4151 Rangos Research Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Sports injuries usually involve tissues that display a limited capacity for healing. The treatment of sports injuries has improved over the past 10 to 20 years through sophisticated rehabilitation programs, novel operative techniques, and advances in the field of biomechanical research. Despite this considerable progress, no optimal solution has been found for treatment of various sports-related injuries, including muscle injuries, ligament and tendon ruptures, central meniscal tears, cartilage lesions, and delayed bone fracture healing. New biological approaches focus on the treatment of these injuries with growth factors to stimulate and hasten the healing process. Gene therapy using the transfer of defined genes encoding therapeutic proteins represents a promising way to efficiently deliver suitable growth factors into the injured tissue. Tissue engineering, which may eventually be combined with gene therapy, may potentially result in the creation of tissues or scaffolds for regeneration of tissue defects following trauma. In this article we will discuss why gene therapy and tissue engineering are becoming increasingly important in modern orthopaedic sports medicine practice. We then will review recent research achievements in the area of gene therapy and tissue engineering for sports-related injuries, and highlight the potential clinical applications of this technology in the treatment of patients with musculoskeletal problems following sports-related injuries.

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