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Re engineering and regenerating the knee

Mid-Term Report Summary 2 - REGENKNEE (Re engineering and regenerating the knee)

Over 15% of the western population currently suffer from osteoarthritis. For severe disability, total joint replacement remains the only treatment. The ageing population is growing and their expectations for an active, high quality life is increasing. The number of knee joint replacements is predicted to increase five fold by 2030. Although the technology for knee joint replacements has advanced considerably in the last decade, it does not yet restore natural function or have the longevity expected for a population demanding “fifty more active years after fifty”. An alternative approach to total artificial joints is needed

During the last decade Professors Ingham and Fisher have led research on the development of novel biological scaffolds, for cardiovascular applications, which are derived from natural tissue sources. Our unique patented bioprocesses remove all of the cells and cell remnants from the natural tissues to produce biocompatible biological scaffolds, whose biomechanical properties mimic those of the natural tissue. These have been shown to regenerate in vivo with the recipients own cells and have been successfully translated through to clinical applications for the treatment of heart valve disease and blood vessel repair following arteriectomy. These new cardiovascular biological scaffolds are now being developed for delivery to patients through the UK National Health Service and commercialised through a University spin out company

In our REGENKNEE Advanced Award, we are researching and developing novel biological scaffolds to repair and regenerate tissues in the knee, to provide an alternative to total joint replacement for early stage degenerative disease. Novel bioprocesses have been developed to produce tissue specific acellular biological scaffolds for the repair and regeneration of ligaments, meniscus, bone and cartilage. The functional biomechanical and biological properties of the scaffolds have been characterised using novel methods and compared to natural tissues they are replacing. The bioprocesses and properties have been optimised for scaffolds to repair and regenerate ligaments and meniscus and these are being investigated in large animal studies and translated and commercialised with our collaborators. Future work will optimise bioprocesses for scaffolds to replace bone and cartilage and composite bone soft tissue scaffolds and translate them to the clinic.

Our research has defined the opportunity for a paradigm shift in the treatment of degenerative disease in the knee and offers the potential of substantially delaying the need for joint replacement in 100,000s of patients every year.