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Joint Development and Regeneration
Osteoarthritis – the progressive deterioration of joints due to injury and/or wear-and-tear – is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Unfortunately, the cartilage and ligaments of mammalian joints show little ability to regenerate following damage. We have developed novel genetic and joint injury models in the highly regenerative zebrafish to uncover endogenous stem cell populations within adult joints. Studies in our laboratory use genetic, cellular, and molecular approaches in zebrafish to understand how joint cells are activated following injury and to uncover the regulatory framework of cell fate decisions during the differentiation of progenitor cells into articular cartilage and ligaments. Our long-term goal is to translate these findings to activate stem cells for joint repair and develop regenerative treatments to restore function in patients suffering from osteoarthritis or traumatic joint injury.