Regenerative medicine and surgery are emerging areas of medicine that are based on design and development of spare parts for the human body. The UC Davis Center for Tissue Regeneration and Repair focuses on regeneration for the musculoskeletal system to restore function to tissue diseased or damaged from cancer, trauma, and arthritis. Regenerative medicine is based on principles of molecular developmental biology and is governed by basic biomechanics and bioengineering. The three key elements of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering are morphogenetic signals, stem cells, and scaffolds of extracellular matrix. Regeneration recapitulates embryonic development and morphogenesis.

Tissue engineering and regeneration of bone and articular cartilage are the top priorities in the research conducted at the Center. This is being addressed through multiple biological and biomechanical approaches. Superficial zone protein is produced by the top layer or articular cartilage and serves as a boundary lubricant, reducing friction.

One segment of the lab is analyzing the relationship between friction and wear of articular cartilage due to changes in mechanical loading, SZP expression, and the greater biomechanical environment. Previous work by this lab has shown that SZP is produced by loading-bearing regions of articular cartilage. We continue to study the biomechanical regulations of SZP by examining its expression in response to a variety of mechanical loading regimes. The mechanotransduction of SZP is also being studied at the cellular level, in relation to cell shape and cytoskeletal morphology. In recent years, the lab has identified stem and progenitor cells in articular cartilage, muscle and synovial tissues. Building upon this work we are exploring the differentiation of embryonic and adult stem cells for articular cartilage and bone repair.