Scientists are investigating whether certain genes can make you more prone to injury in sport.
Victoria University’s Dr Nir Eynon and a team of international researchers are gathering genetic profiles from people who have ruptured their Anterior Cruciate Ligament, or ACL, in search of a common genetic thread.
aACL rupture is one of the most severe musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries in sport and often career-ending for athletes, particularly in ball sports such as football and soccer.
Dr Eynon said previous studies with smaller samples suggested a link between the collagen genes controlling ligaments and tendon structure in humans and susceptibility to injuries such as ACL rupture.
“This is the first large-scale study to test whether this gene actually predicts such injuries, or perhaps even to discover other genetic compounds that may be associated with ACL injuries,” Dr Eynon said.
Around 500 samples have already been gathered in Australia, South Africa and Poland from patients undergoing reconstructive surgery, but another 500 samples are needed and researchers will accept samples from people who have ruptured their ACL at some stage in the past.
Dr Eynon said the research would eventually allow us to identify which athletes and keen exercisers, based on their genetics, needed more specific training to strengthen or protect areas of their body at risk of injury, as well as when to ease off and prevent overtraining.
“This area of personalised medicine has huge potential in allowing support staff to better tailor training loads for each athlete to protect them from injury,” he said.
This study is being led by Dr Eynon and Dr Oren Tirosh from the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living at Victoria University and Professor Julian Feller, an internationally recognised Melbourne orthopaedic surgeon affiliated with a number of AFL clubs, in partnership with Prof Malcolm Collins and Dr Alison September from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
The study is part of Victoria University ISEAL’s research program in Genes & Performance, which also includes the much-publicised Speed Gene study.
(Source: Victoria University)