Keita Ito chairs the research group Orthopaedic Biomechanics, where engineering and biology are combined to expand our understanding of the biomechanical function of musculoskeletal tissues as well as their adaptive developmental and physiological nature. This knowledge is then applied to explore and develop regenerative treatment strategies. Currently the research focuses on four musculoskeletal tissues: bone; articular cartilage; intervertebral disc; and tendons/ligaments. He personally leads the research effort on the topic of the intervertebral discs. Degenerative disc disease is one of the most prevalent causes of back/neck pain that often leads to disability for individuals of working age. The goal of the research is to understand the basic mechanisms of disc degeneration and to develop long-term functional treatments for this condition. The strategy focuses on: exploring deficient nutrition, loss of high tissue tonicity and mechanical loading as mechanotransduction mechanisms of cellular stimulated degeneration; how these degenerative changes may cause failure of disc function; and then using this understanding to explore tissue engineering approaches towards disc regeneration. The approach is to combine numerical simulations with tissue explant ex vivo experiments in bioreactors where the physical environment can be controlled.
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