Researchers develop synthetic scaffolds to heal injured tendons and ligaments

April 14, 2020

Key points:Australia's love of sport means it has one of the highest rates of knee anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and reconstruction in the world.

Worldwide, the costs of tendon and ligament rupture repair and surgery revision represent tens of billions of dollars of the clinical orthopaedic market.

A team of biomedical engineering researchers from the University of Sydney, working with Columbia University's Regenerative Engineering Laboratory and FAU Erlangen-Nurnberg Institute of Medical Biotechnology (Germany), are hoping to improve the outcomes of tendon and ligament repair by developing a new synthetic scaffold for their regeneration.

Led by the Head of the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Unit and Director of the Australian Research Centre for Innovative BioEngineering, Professor Hala Zreiqat, working with postdoctoral researcher Dr Young No, the researchers are the first to develop and patent novel fibre-reinforced hydrogel scaffolds, a synthetic substance that has the ability to mimic and replace human tendon and ligament tissue.

"Ruptures to tendons and ligaments mostly occur in accidents and when playing sport. Worldwide and particularly in Australia, there is an immense clinical need for the development of readily available, off-the-shelf, mechanically strong synthetic tendon scaffolds," said Professor Zreiqat.

"Conservative methods using immobilisation casts and movement restricting splints and braces often require several weeks of rehabilitation to achieve minimal functional recovery, while current implants carry a higher risk of rejection and infection," she said.

"Our technology hopes to fast-track the restoration of tendons' and ligaments' mechanical function and support the growth of collagen tissue, without compromising the body's biological response," she said.

Tested on patellar tendon models in rats, the synthetic scaffold has been developed with a stress resistance and water volume similar to real tendons and ligaments, allowing for the improved in-growth of collagen tissue.

"Until now, synthetic scaffolds have come with a significant risk of implant failure, as well as poor biological tissue integration and abrasion," she said.

"Human tendons and ligaments are 70 percent water - they are complicated structures that include blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels and perform the task of linking bone to muscle and moving the body," she said.

"For synthetic scaffolds to be accepted by the body, their physical and chemical architecture must align with human tendons and ligaments," she said.

The researchers now hope to investigate the long-term behaviour of these scaffolds in both internal and external bodily conditions, as well as to observe tissue integration and biomechanics in larger animal models.
-end-
DISCLOSURE:

The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Council, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Rebecca L. Cooper Medical Research Foundation, and the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis at University of Sydney with technical support for Scanning Electron Microscopy analysis.

Dr Chang Hun Lee acknowledges support from the National Institute of Health. Dr Oliver Freidrich and Professor Hala Zreiqat acknowledge support through the German Academic exchange service and Universities Australia exchange scheme. Dr Oliver Freidrich acknowledges support through the German Research Foundation.

University of Sydney

Related Anterior Cruciate Ligament Articles from Brightsurf:

Study points way to possible new treatment for ligament injuries
A new exosomes study released in STEM CELLS may lead to future treatment for ligament injuries.

Researchers develop synthetic scaffolds to heal injured tendons and ligaments
Top biomedical engineering researcher develops synthetic scaffolds for tendon and ligament regeneration.

Anterior insula activation restores prosocial behavior in animal model of opioid addiction
Researchers in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology have shown that chemogenetic activation of the anterior insula restores prosocial behavior in an animal model of opioid addiction and empathy.

Simple computational models can help predict post-traumatic osteoarthritis
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, in collaboration with the University of California in San Francisco, Cleveland Clinic, the University of Queensland, the University of Oulu and Kuopio University Hospital, have developed a method to predict post-traumatic osteoarthritis in patients with ligament ruptures using a simplified computational model.

Does autograft choice in ACL reconstruction affect recurrent ACL revision rates
Young athletes who have anterior cruciate ligament surgery are more likely to need an additional surgery if they received a hamstring graft compared to a bone-patellar tendon-bone graft, according to research presented today at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Annual Meeting.

Lateral extra-articular tenodesis reduces hamstring autograft
The addition of lateral extra-articular tenodesis to a hamstring autograft in knee surgery in young active patients significantly reduces graft failure and persistent anterolateral rotatory laxity at two years post operatively.

Mini 'magic' MRI scanner could diagnose knee injuries more accurately
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a prototype mini MRI scanner that fits around a patient's leg.

Study looks at opioid use after knee surgery
A small study looked at whether reducing the number of opioid tablets prescribed after knee surgery would reduce postoperative use and if preoperative opioid-use education would reduce it even more.

Does stimulation of the brain's dorsal anterior insula trigger ecstasy?
The epileptic 'aura' is a subjective phenomenon that sometimes precedes the visible clinical features of a seizure.

Researchers explore augmented ACL reconstruction procedure
An innovative procedure that explores the use of amnion, bone marrow concentrate and suture tape in ACL reconstruction may result in earlier return to play protocols for athletes, suggests a new study from the Marshall University Joan C.

Read More: Anterior Cruciate Ligament News and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.