Monday October 28, 2013 0 commentsFORT COLLINS - Researchers in Colorado State University's School of Biomedical Engineering are developing a material that can help injured knees regenerate soft tissue after reconstructive surgery, CSU announced.
Principal investigator Tammy Haut Donahue and co-investigator Ketul Popat, associate professors in the mechanical engineering department, are part of a three-year, $1.2 million grant in conjunction with collaborators in Ireland and Northern Ireland at Trinity College Center for Bioengineering and Queens University.
Knee injuries account for more than 25 percent of all orthopedic treatments in the U.S. and more than half of all sports injuries, CSU said. One of the most common knee injuries is a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which typically is repaired by using tissue grafts.
However, the ACL repair results in a high rate of repeat surgeries because of a lack of regrowth of soft tissue in the knee.
"Although numerous replacements for injured soft tissue structures have been developed, they typically fail to address the soft tissue-to-bone interface," said Popat. "This interface is necessary for the proper function of the entire joint."
The CSU team is developing a new biomaterial that will be able to mimic that natural interface, CSU said. The material - a hydrogel reinforced with nanofibers - will be seeded with stem cells naturally occurring in adult cartilage.
The replacement tissue made from the hydrogel will be physically and biochemically modified to drive the implanted stem cells into the hard bone of the knee, where it will promote the formation of an intermediary soft tissue template that will grow into appropriate end-stage soft tissue, CSU said.
CSU will receive $400,000 from the National Science Foundation to support the project, with the rest of the funding coming from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Results of the research are expected to be published starting next year.