Degree Objective: Ph.D. Chemical Engineering
Hometown: Redlands, CA
Prior Degrees: B.Sc. Chemical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: University of California Santa Barbara
Using Nanotechnology to Regenerate the Enthesis
In naturally occurring joints in the human body, there exists a graded transition between hard bone and soft ligaments/tendons called the enthesis; a functional cushion to disperse stress concentrations. When the ligament/tendon is injured, and if the injury requires reconstructive surgery, the entire ligament/tendon tissue must be removed and replaced with healthy tissue. However, there is currently no material that can restore enthesis functionality and the patient is left with an abrupt insertion of ligament/tendon into bone, secured with sutures or screws. As one can imagine, this assembly focuses more stress on the ligament/tendon, and surgery is followed by many months of physical therapy without the guarantee of ever achieving previous levels of strength and flexibility in the joint.
To increase the post-operative success rate of joint reconstructive surgeries, I am developing an artificial enthesis capable of cushioning the bone-ligament insertion site by adhering to bone on one side and soft muscle tissue on the other. To allow surgeons to make limited changes to current procedures, I am fabricating an o-ring shaped enthesis through which the ligament/tendon can be passed before being secured to bone in the usual manner. This orthobiologic enthesis is composed of poly-α-hydroxyester along the interior where it adheres to ligament/tendon, and then it is gradually mineralized towards the outer circumference with hydroxyapatite to mimic functionality with bone. The device is coated on the outside with a nano-treated magnesium composite to provide maximum adhesion with its bony surroundings. As the patient heals via the body’s natural mechanisms, the orthobiolgic will degrade to leave an artificial cushioning structure which mimics the enthesis found in naturally occurring joints.