Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears affect 15,000 people per year in the UK alone. These injuries are particularly common amongst younger, active members of the population. The ACL helps stabilise the knee joint by connecting the femur to the tibia. Injury to the ACL therefore causes pain and knee instability, affecting the ability of patients to walk and undertake everyday tasks. This results in reduced quality of life and often leads to the development of knee osteoarthritis. As the ACL has limited ability to self-repair, 80% of cases must rely on surgical treatment to prevent this ongoing disability. Most surgeries are reconstructions where the torn ligament ends are attached (grafted) to a piece of tendon harvested from elsewhere in the patient’s knee. Unfortunately, surgery often fails, with 15% of cases needing a second surgery. Ongoing knee pain and damage to the site where the donor tissue has been taken is also common. It is therefore essential to improve treatments.
In this project, we are aiming to develop a degradable synthetic material that is designed to structurally support torn ligaments and simultaneously stimulate the repair process.