Regenerating A Torn ACL

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

February 23, 2007

It happens in football and especially in basketball.

"I think the majority of individuals with ACL tears are athletic, they may not be professional or college athletes but they are athletic" said Dr. Cato Laurencin, Department of Orthopedic Surgery.

But as long as you're using your legs, no matter what sport you play, chances are that if you tear your ACL, you may be watching that season from the sidelines.

"When the ACL is torn, the knee becomes unstable or the bones are able to move around each other in an irregular fashion" said Laurencin.

Dr. Cato Laurencin, Chairman of the UVa Department of Orthopedic Surgery, is working on a man-made solution.

"We created a synthetic matrix that will be placed in the knee joint in rabbits and it regenerates the ACL. And we found new neo-ligament formation with collagen and new blood vessels in the new ligament" said Laurencin.

Breaking down the medical jargon, ACL's cannot repair on their own, so Dr. Laurencin's synthetic ACL would be tissue that doctors wouldn't have to harvest from other parts of the body.

"Which would hopefully decrease recovery time and hopefully allow patients to be moving earlier without pain" said Laurencin.

"Our goal is to create something that's going to be strong enough to be able to withstand the forces in the knee joint during walking and running, and so in the rabbit study we placed the ligament in the knee joint and they were immediately able to bear wait and to use their knees" said Laurencin.

Dr Laurencin says that he and his team still have more work to do. So far the synthetic ACL has been successful in rabbits, but they must first test it on a larger animal, before they try it on their first human.

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