Nelly Andarawis-Puri (PI), Scott Rodeo (Co-I), Cindy Leifer (Co-I), Nozomi Nishimura (Co-I); Iwijn De Vlaminck (Co-I) have been awarded a $75,000 Cornell Engineering Sprout Award to study tendon injuries. Cornell Engineering Sprout Awards provide seed funding to support teams of investigators pursuing novel research at the intersection of multiple fields with a goal of being able to submit the work to outside funding agencies.
The proposed studies are to determine the damage component that is lacking in sub-rupture injuries to mount the necessary inflammatory response by using precise laser ablation to differentiate between the effect of matrix micro-rupture and cellular necrosis. They also utilize cell-free RNA profiling of different tendon injuries in their mouse injury model and in human samples to make a leap towards managing each injury based on its environment. This first aspect alone is highly impactful because of the potential clinical translation of precisely employed laser ablation to promote healing of overuse tendon injuries. In addition, the search for biomarkers that are indicative of onset of tendon injuries has been an unattainable target. The investigative team is uniquely positioned to identify circulating cell-free RNA signatures of different tendon injuries, and test the findings in human subjects, thereby pioneering a non-invasive mechanism to diagnose onset of tendon injuries to tailor treatment.