The researchers aim to commercialise a stem cell therapy which will accelerate the healing process for those with damaged knee ligaments so they can return to work and recreational activity faster.
The application and delivery of the project was spearheaded by Alison Hardy at Business Gateway, the University’s Research and Business Collaboration Unit.
The ICURe Innovation-to-Commercialisation programme is a collaboration of the SETsquared Partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and Innovate UK, designed to move ideas and innovation out of universities and into the marketplace, where they will have the greatest impact.
The programme involves three months of full-time, intense market assessment enabling the team to engage with prospective customers, partners and competitors, taking steps to validate the commercial potential of their research and will offer the team expert guidance on recommended development pathways.
The options proposed can include carrying out further research, exploring licensing opportunities, seeking private funding for spin-out or, for those projects that have demonstrated strong market potential by the end of the market validation, the panel may recommend that the team applies for start-up funding and assistance will be provided so that they can be fast-tracked into creating a company.
Dr Rachel Oldershaw is leading the team in collaboration with Mr Mike McNicholas, who practises at Aintree University Hospital.
Quality of life
Dr Oldershaw, said: “The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments within the knee; it is susceptible to rupture and is surgically reconstructed to restore normal function. The post-surgery healing process is very slow and impacts on the patient’s quality of life as well as causing chronic musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoarthritis.
“ACL injury is most typically associated with high level professional athletes, impeding performance and in some cases ending careers. ACL injury is also particularly prevalent in the young ‘in-work’ demographic of the population where it can impact on the patient’s quality of life and also the wider economy due to healthcare costs.”
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