BioLig: a novel synthetic implant for knee ligament repair

Disease - Knee Pain

Lead applicant - Dr Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy

Organisation - University of Oxford

Type of grant - Translational awards

Status of grant - Pending

Amount of the original award - £99,778.00

Start date - 01 August 2020

Reference - 22415

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The aim of this research is to further the development of a synthetic implant for knee ligament repair, known as BioLig. The implant is designed to support damaged ligaments and aid the repair process using biological cues. This project hopes to support moving this medical device to-wards human clinical trials by scaling up manufacture in a cleanroom and producing BioLig implants suitable for initial pre-clinical studies.

Why is this research important?

The anterior cruciate ligament is a connective tissue which helps stabilise the knee joint by connecting the femur bone to the tibia bone. Anterior cruciate ligament tears affect 15,000 people per year in the UK alone. These injuries are particularly common amongst younger, active members of the population, resulting in pain and knee instability, affecting the ability of patients to walk and undertake everyday tasks. This results in reduced quality of life and may also contribute to later development of knee osteoarthritis.

As the anterior cruciate ligament has limited ability to self-repair, 80% of cases must rely on surgical treatment to prevent ongoing instability. Most surgeries are reconstructions where the torn ligament ends are attached (grafted) to a piece of tendon harvested from elsewhere in the patient’s knee. Unfortunately, surgery often fails, with 15% of cases needing a second surgery. Ongoing knee pain and damage to the site where the donor tissue has been taken is also common. BioLig has potential as an alternative to using a tendon graft to repair torn ligaments and restore stability in the knee.

How will the findings benefit patients?

If successfully developed, BioLig may provide an alternative to current surgical techniques for knee ligament repair, restoring stability in the knee without harvesting tissue from another area of the joint. This could help to restore function of the knee, reduce pain and disability and allow people return to normal daily activities. As well as improving quality of life, the repair may also reduce the risk of onset of arthritis, bringing great health economic benefit. Before becoming available to patients, BioLig is being prepared for pre-clinical animal studies and if results are promising, will be moved towards human clinical trials.