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Researchers and families get weaving on Super Science Saturday

On Saturday,  NDORMS researcher Joana Martins, supported by Klara Berencsi and Natalie Ford, took part in Super Science Saturday at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  Over the course of the afternoon we talked to around 120 people about the Oxford Biopatch and many children took part in the various weaving activities that we had as part of the stall (the biopatch includes a woven component, so earlier research stages involved our researchers weaving on a wooden loom).  

We had an amazing time talking to people of all ages and next time we’ll know to prepare even more cardboard looms for people to use!

More ABOUT THE OXFORD BIOPATCH FROM our Family Leaflet

The muscles in our body are attached to our bones with tendons. Sometimes the tendons in our shoulder get torn and this makes the shoulder painful and difficult to move. People with damaged shoulders can get surgery to try to mend the damage to their shoulder. This is currently done by sewing the tear together with surgical thread but researchers would like to find new ways to make the tendons heal better.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have created a new type of surgical thread which is made of the same material but which, rather than being smooth and solid like normal surgical thread, has a special surface which encourages new tendon material to grow around and through it. Using the new type of thread, they have also made a special patch, the Oxford Biopatch, which holds the tear together and at the same time helps the body to mend the tear by encouraging it to build new tendon material on and around the patch.  The patch comes in two parts, a thin but flimsy layer which encourages new tendon growth and a woven layer which makes the patch stronger and easier to sew into place. The whole patch dissolves slowly in the body and is completely gone after a few months, leaving the newly healed tear behind.

The woven layer is made using the same techniques as we use to make cloth - horizontal threads are passed over and under vertical threads. The machine that is used to do this is known as a loom. Because the patch will be used inside people’s bodies, the patch has to be tested in lots of different ways to check that it works and is safe. So far it has passed all the tests but there are still more tests it has to pass before it can be regularly used to help shoulders to mend better.