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A functionalised TRAD for the treatment of rotator cuff injuries

   Department of Materials

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  Prof Sarah Cartmell, Prof Mark Travis  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Working in partnership with industry

To apply for this programme, please visit Informal enquiries are welcome, to [Email Address Removed].

ABM CDT Rotator cuff tears are a common cause of shoulder disability and are normally associated with weakness, loss of motion, debilitating pain and a reduced capacity for daily activities. The prevalence of rotator cuff tears is 34% in the general population and is more prevalent in the elderly population (54% in those > 60 years of age). Surgical management of massive cuff tear is challenging, with a re-rupture rate that oscillates between 11% and 94% according to the literature.

The use of tissue-engineered scaffolds appears like a valuable alternative to standard surgical repair. In order to reconstruct the rotator cuff and improve tendon healing outcomes, various scaffolds of biological and synthetic nature have been used in the clinic. However, although encouraging results in preclinical studies, the translation in human studies has been unsatisfactory. Indeed, in spite of the growing clinical use of scaffold devices for tendon repair, no optimal augmentation/repair device has been developed, since many questions related to their design, indication for surgical applications, safety, mechanism of action, and outcomes remain to be clarified or addressed. Therefore, there is a clinical need for a tendon repair device that is biomechanically strong to avoid re-rupture, can support cell migration towards the injury site and facilitate tendon healing.

What are Prof Cartmell group has been working on the improvement of tendon repair outcomes and has developed a Tendon Repair Augmentation Device (TRAD) made from electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) designed for hand tendon injuries. This PhD project aims to optimise the design of TRAD for application in rotator cuff injuries.

Main questions to be answered:

  1. How can the original TRAD system be adapted to rotator cuff injuries?
  2. What is the optimal design of TRAD for rotator cuff repair? This includes shape of the device and considerations on implantation/suturing in the tendon to minimise surgery invasiveness using electrospinning technique
  3. Does the TRAD have the appropriate mechanical properties to sustain the forces generated within the rotator cuff tendon during the process of healing? Incorporation of a reinforcing material in PCL will be explored (e.g. graphene oxide) to enhance mechanical properties of the device and loaded versus unloaded mechanical tests will be performed to assess performance of the device in simulated in vivo loaded conditions
  4. How can the TRAD be functionalised in order to facilitate cell migration towards the injury site, regenerate the tissue and accelerate tendon repair? Functionalisation of TRAD with growth factors (e.g. BMP and TGF-β family) will be performed to act as chemoattractant and to improve cell response
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