Areas of Research: Identifying regulatory mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis, tendinopathy, and skeletal cancers, with the potential to be used as targets for developing novel therapeutics.
Dr. Sun and Orthopaedic Research Laboratory
Develop novel and effective preventive and therapeutic strategies for musculoskeletal disorders
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Elucidate mechanisms underlying how stem cells behave and identify novel therapeutic targets
- Develop effective, patient/surgeon-friendly gene and cell therapy strategies
- Bridge research findings from bench to bedside
- Most common joint disease and a leading cause of adult disability
- Mechanisms of disease development not well understood
- No effective treatment options for prevention or arrest
- Decreased expression of transcriptional regulator CITED2 protein associated with cartilage breakdown and matrix loss, as indicated by Safranin O, in human OA
- Experimental suppression of CITED2 causes OA-like cartilage breakdown, suggesting reduced expression of CITED2 protein contributes to OA disease initiation and progression
- Experimental restoration of CITED2 slows the development of cartilage degradation in a mouse model of OA (DMM)
Tendon Stem Cell Aging and Regeneration
- Tendons become more susceptible to injury and less able to heal with age
- This project explores how age-related decline in tendon integrity may be the result of changes in the stem cells that are responsible for maintaining these tissues
- Research will gain insights into the basis for tendon disorders that could lead to new strategies for aged tendon rejuvenation, injury repair and regeneration.
- Tendon stem cell number and function decline with age, which is associated with age-related injury.
- Reduced levels of CITED2 protein is responsible for age-related stem cell decline. Low levels of CITED2 causes reduction in stem cell survival marker (Bmi1) and increased cell proliferation inhibitors (p16Ink4a, p14Arf).
Future Directions and Perspectives
- Develop pharmacological agents for OA, tendinopathy, and tendon injuries
- Determine role of Low Energy Focused Ultrasound (LOFU) on enhancing stem cell ability of tissue repair and regeneration
- Novel approach to prevent skeletal cancer recurrence and metastasis by targeting cancer stem cells
- Daniel Leong, 1st Place, Parviz Lalezari Award for Research Excellence: Montefiore Medical Center Young Investigator Symposium (2012)
- Leon An, Semi-finalist: The Siemans Competition in Math, Science, and Technology (2012)
- Daniel Leong, Webster Jee Young Investigator Award: International Chinese Musculoskeletal Tissue Society Annual Meeting (2013)
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