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Professor Gray's research is geared towards understanding and, ultimately preventing or slowing the cartilage degeneration that affects at least 6 out of 10 people over age 45. Over the last decade, the efforts of Professor Gray and her colleagues have been primarily directed at establishing MRI tools that provide a picture of the biochemical and functional properties of the tissue. Specifically, they have developed and verified a method that indicates the amount of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) in the tissue. Regions of tissue that are functionally inadequate can be distinguished from normal tissue even when the entire tissue is anatomically intact (and looks normal with the usual imaging methods). They have also demonstrated that this imaging method can be used clinically (in vivo in humans) and for basic science studies of cartilage development. She and her colleagues have also shown that differences in GAG correspond with differences in mechanical (functional) tissue properties. Though some important issues remain to be solved before this imaging method becomes, as routine as x-rays are now, there is sufficient evidence to support our optimism that this method could ultimately become a routine tool. To that end, HST researchers are engaged in using this enabling technology for a number of basic science and clinical research.
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