Seminar Series No. 9: Fibre Reinforcement In The Extracellular Matrix Of Connective Tissues: or Why we Don’t Fall Down

Dr Kheng Lim Goh

Date: 2008-06-27
Time: 15:00 to 16:00
Venue: TR9307


Biological structures arrived on Earth long before artificial ones. Before there was life on Earth, there was nothing that could be considered as a purposeful structure; only sand, rocks and water made up the Earth. Life, as it turns out, needs to be kept in a container that can facilitate mobility. In this talk I will focus on the extracellular matrix (ECM) material in connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments and muscles that form the bulk of the human body for locomotion. I will be discussing about the basic principles underlying fibre composites that I have used to help us understand how collagen fibrils in the ECM provide reinforcement to connective tissues and also some implications on ageing which is seen as a gradual alteration of muscular-skeletal function and which contributes significantly to the loss of autonomy and to morbidity. At the ECM lab, our experiments involve micro-mechanical testing of tissues, transmission electron microscopy, computer modeling and immuno-histology to gain information on the molecular mechanisms underlying (1) the ability of connective tissues to support the human body and (2) the mechanisms of biological ageing. Our data has yielded evidence that lends support to several issues typical of the aging connective tissue physiology, namely the stiffening and toughening of tissues during old age associated with structural changes in the components of the ECM. Our long-term goal is to apply the findings to clinical areas, namely, developing strategies for effective tissue repair.

About the Speaker