HomeEducationGraduate and Undergraduate ProgramsResearch Experience for Undergraduates (REU)REU 2019 ProjectsCrack Initiation in Osteoarthritic Tissue

Crack Initiation in Osteoarthritic Tissue

Professor: Itai Cohen

Project Description
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The presence of cracks in articular cartilage is a common sign of joint damage, but the failure properties of cartilage are poorly understood. It has been previously shown that the surface layer of articular cartilage has a protective effect on the tissue deeper within the joint, and allows for the effective dissipation of energy. However, the action of the surface tissue when the tissue is diseased is an entirely new question. Understanding the properties driving fracture initiation in osteoarthritic tissue could allow for major developments in clinical diagnostics and surgery procedures for joint treatment.

To probe this problem, we use enzymes to degrade bovine cartilage to create an effective model for osteoarthritis. Using a custom built tissue deformation apparatus in conjunction with confocal elastography, we can image strained tissue in real time to track crack initiation and growth within cartilage. The student will gain experience with high speed confocal microscopy, image analysis, experimental soft condensed matter techniques and experiment design.

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