Health: UniBo patented a device that repairs tendons and ligaments
The regeneration and replacement of damaged tendon and ligament tissue were the aim of a team of researchers at University of Bologna who developed and patented an innovative scaffold, to be used both in the surgical field and in the biomedical sector.
The device was developed thanks to the advanced electrospinning technique, which allows the production of nanometre diameter fibres.
“In this way, we were able to create a device that can simulate all the elements that make up a human tendon or ligament”, said Alberto Sensini, one of the researchers involved.
The strength of the patented device is its ability to reproduce in an extremely accurate way the structure of tendons and ligaments, much more complex than that of bone tissue.
“The structure of our scaffold mimics accurately the structure of human tendon and ligament tissue, even in its mechanical properties”, explained Sensini.
As well as mimicking the tendon and ligament tissue, the device would also be able to potentially reproduce the mechanical, morphological and physiological characteristics of muscles and nerves. But how does it work?
Once implanted in the damaged area, the scaffold is colonized by cells which progressively reproduce the tissue in its original structure. At that point, the scaffold degrades naturally, making way for the regenerated tissues.
The device developed by the researchers is biodegradable and, once it has been absorbed, it allows the original function of the damaged tissues to be restored. However, by using a different material, it is possible to use the technology developed by the researchers to produce non- absorbable prostheses able to permanently replace tendons and ligaments that cannot be repaired.
The device is currently at an advanced prototype stage, also thanks to collaborations with some of the leading international experts in the fields of X-ray tomography and cell cultures, such as Gianluca Tozzi, director of the Zeiss Global Centre at University of Portsmouth, and Gwendolen Reilly from INSIGNEO - Institute for In Silico Medicine at University of Sheffield.
The instrument was developed in Bologna by researchers Alberto Sensini, Luca Cristofolini, Juri Belcari and Andrea Zucchelli, Department of Industrial Engineering, and Chiara Gualandi and Maria Letizia Focarete, “Giacomo Ciamician” Department of Chemistry.