An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the University of Miami’s (UMiami’s) Miller School of Medicine and College of Engineering is poised to begin developing a novel, long-lasting treatment for meniscus tears. Meniscus tears, which are among the most common type of knee injuries, are currently treated via total or partial meniscectomy or suturing. In the long term, these treatments often result in meniscus degeneration, re-tear, and premature osteoarthritis of the knee.
The inner part of the meniscus receives its nutrients by diffusion. “Because of the poor blood supply, meniscus tears usually do not heal on their own,” said Alicia Jackson, PhD, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.
“We will develop a bioengineered scaffold, a composite structure made of synthetic and natural polymers alongside biological compounds, that assists in the establishment of biological function and tissue reconstruction, for the knee,” said Francesco Travascio, PhD, an assistant professor of industrial engineering in the College of Engineering, who will be the team leader.
The bioengineered scaffold will closely mimic the structure, composition, biomechanics, and electro-kinetics of the healthy tissue in the knee to allow it to integrate itself into the meniscus and regenerate the tissue at the defect. The research team will examine the composition, region, and structure of each property and develop a novel library of design criteria for the bioengineered scaffold as well as a computation model of the meniscus. Once the scaffold is developed, the team will test the scaffold’s ability to integrate itself into a meniscus and subsequently regenerate the torn tissue.
The work will pave the way for testing on live animal models and ultimately for clinical applications, said Jackson.