Dr. Scott Sell
Dr. Scott Sell
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Every year thousands of people tear or severe ligaments in their body because their active life style. To repair such an injury, a native ligament must be taken from the body to replace the damaged one. For instance, if one tears an ACL then, a portion of the tendon that connects the patella to tibia must be used to reconstruct the ACL. Such an operation is very invasive and requires several months of rehabilitation to return to the pre-injury lifestyle. One reason is that the tendon that connects the patella to the tibia must heal. This leaves the ligament weaker than before. To prevent such a hurdle, a ligament can be engineering outside of the body which can be transplanted into the patient. For such an implantation to occur, first, a polymer scaffold must be created. This polymer scaffold will be the place where the cells grow and mature to create the ligament. The method that creates polymer scaffolds is known as electrospinning. To ensure that the scaffold performs at the level of the native tissue, the polymer scaffold must be engineered in a way so there are no defects in the structure. Additionally, the native ligaments experience anisotropic stresses, that is stresses in one direction. Therefore, we must ensure that the scaffold produced will grow cells that will be able to experience stresses in an anisotropic manner. To ensure that the alignment of the polymer scaffold is up to the required standard, we will need to use a microscopic technique like SEM or image processing technique such as FFT. The last issue is constraints.
The apparatus must be small enough to fit at a lab bench. The maximum the apparatus can be is 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep. Additionally, there must be constraints on the polymer and solvent. There are many different types of polymers that can be chosen, but for this case, we would like a polymer that degrades at the same rate that the cells proliferate at. Furthermore, the solvent must be constricted to suit our required properties. In our case, the solvent that the polymer is dissolved into must be highly volatile so final product is solid rather than liquid.