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academic and clinical focus. Million pound grant is great

leap forward for tendon team By UMIP / University of Manchester

That, the researchers believe, would dramatically decrease the time needed for a tendon to heal, something which will be especially beneficial in sports injuries when athletes can typically be out of action for up to eight weeks.

Using the artificial tendon also takes away the need to operate on a second site in the body, which further speeds up the recovery time.

Working on the team with Professor Downes are Professor Gus McGrouther, Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Jason Wong, Clinical Lecturer in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; Dr Sarah Cartmell, Reader in Biomaterials and Dr Paul Mummery, Reader in Engineering Materials.

A University of Manchester research project looking at repairing damaged tendons has taken a huge step forward with the award of a Medical Research Council (MRC) grant worth more than £1m.

The award will allow the team, led by Professor Sandra Downes from the School of Materials to continue their research into the research on spinning biodegradable nano-fibres into a ’fabric’ that could be used in the body as an artificial tendon.

The MRC grant funding will be used to develop the scaffold, through laboratory and preclinical studies, leading to validation for clinical studies and commercialisation.

The commercialisation of the technology has been led by UMIP (the University of Manchester’s technology transfer company) and the project has already benefited from UMIP’s Proof-of-Principle funding, an investment from the UMIP Premier Fund (UPF), and a grant of £50,000 from Regener8.

There are around 400,000 tendon procedures performed each year in Europe and 550,000 cases of severed hand tendons reported annually in the USA.

Within highly-industrialised countries, such as the UK, approximately 800 tendon operations per million residents are performed annually.

The artificial tendon can be surgically grafted onto the site of an injury, where it encourages the injured tendon to grow and repair, before safely degrading.

Professor Downes said: “This award of this MRC grant acknowledges that this is a major breakthrough in tendon repair.

“Currently there is no clinically available artificial tendon scaffold and our work in this area should lead to significant benefits for patients with tendon injuries in the future. We are pleased that this has been recognised by the Medical Research Council in this way.”

“ Tendons have a poor healing response. If you damage them they often don’t heal back to their original strength, you get a lot of scar tissue and can have ongoing pain.”

The initial research was conducted by PhD student Lucy Bosworth, who added: “Tendons have a poor healing response. If you damage them they often don’t heal back to their original strength, you get a lot of scar tissue and can have ongoing pain.

The current treatment creates two sites of injury but this approach would just be a one-off surgery which clearly provides a faster recovery time.”

The MRC grant has been made under the Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) a new, rigorously-assessed, funding scheme set up by the MRC to help strengthen the translation of fundamental research towards patient benefit.


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