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Orthopaedics Research

Keeping your body moving

Musculoskeletal disorders have a profound effect on patients' physical function, overall health and quality of life. The Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR) has been among the top 5 NIH-funded orthopaedic research centers in the nation for nearly 20 years and has occupied the first- or second-place spot for most of those years.

The CMSR is comprised of highly integrated faculty from a variety of URMC departments outside of orthopaedics, including Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Medicine (Rheumatology and Endocrinology). Much of its success is due to an emphasis on collaboration and training early-career investigators, the breadth of URMC's Orthopaedics program and the diverse research interests of the faculty.

Scientists are working on a number of fronts to bring new treatments for conditions that affect millions of people:

  • Researchers are helping patients "regrow" large portions of bone damaged by tumors or trauma using 3D printing and tissue engineering technology. This involves re-engineering a patient's own cells (like skin cells) to stem cells and integrating them into a 3D printed scaffold that matches the patient's missing bone. Finally, the team will test how to use a chemical signal to turn the stem cells into bone once the scaffold is implanted. 3D printing and tissue engineering are also being explored to repair torn tendons without causing scarring, which is a common drawback of surgery.

    Mending Broken Bones with 3D Printing

  • Bone infection is a serious complication for patients who undergo total joint replacement. CMSR researchers have been working to develop a vaccine against the most common type of infection, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. CMSR's patented "passive immunization" approach embeds medication into a bone "spacer" that is placed at the site of infection when an implant must be removed. The CMSR team has also made new discoveries into how MRSA evades antibiotics and is currently developing a MRSA vaccine.

    Developing a Vaccine to Prevent and Treat MRSA Infections

  • Arthritis is a chronic condition but patients can experience acute episodes of pain and inflammation, called flares. CMSR researchers are working to expand our knowledge of what causes flares and the potential for common drugs like Viagra and Cialis to treat them. CMSR Director Edward Schwarz, PhD, has also developed a new theory of arthritic flare that suggests lymphatic vessels that normally drain inflammation away from joints may be impaired in people with arthritis. Schwarz used real-time near-infrared imaging to capture and quantify lymphatic flow, demonstrated here in a healthy volunteer.