Manchester team wins award for developing cruciate ligament device
4 July 2011
A group of clinicians, technology specialists and research and
development managers from Manchester have been awarded the 2011
PraxisUnico Collaborative Impact Award for their exceptional team work.
They developed GraftBolt, a novel anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
The award recognises collaborative projects that leverage the
intellectual assets of the research base of more than one partner.
In the case of GraftBolt, the product was developed from an initial
sketch into an implantable device as a result of collaboration
between an NHS hospital, a university and its agent for
commercialisation (UMIP), a company and an NHS Innovation Hub.
The original concept came from an NHS surgeon at University
Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust who recognised the
clinical need and sought advice, expertise and funding from
University of Manchester and TrusTECH, the North West NHS Innovation
Hub. This funding was used to continue the initial development,
feasibility work and testing and to file a patent to protect the
intellectual property. TrusTECH then negotiated a licence with US
orthopaedic device company, Arthrex Inc, to develop the device into
a commercially viable product.
Dr Joanne Thomas, Senior Technology Manager, TrusTECH said: “The
development of GraftBolt is an excellent example of how a clinician,
academics, a company and an NHS Innovation Hub can work together to
develop a new product. The success was due to: good team
communication; a robust patent; and a highly motivated commercial
partner with excellent market knowledge. It is great to see the
product now on sale, improving healthcare and generating royalties
for the NHS Trust and the university.”
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the back of the knee
stabilises the knee joint. ACL injury affects 1 in 3500 people, with
about 200,000 injuries in the US per year. It is commonly repaired
using the patient’s own hamstring tendons to form a quadruple graft
that is secured in the tibia (shin bone) and femur (upper leg bone).
The NHS performs around 11,000 ACL reconstructions per year. ACL
reconstruction is not universally successful, with failure rates of
5-25% often resulting in further surgery and long term problems. The
main cause of this is loss of graft fixation within the tibia in the
early post-operative period.
GraftBolt aims to improve the patient’s quality of life by
successfully repairing their injury first time and improving the
quality of bonding of the graft to the bone, which speeds up the
healing of the graft implant and hence improves the patient’s
The product has a higher ‘pullout strength’ than the main
competing product and therefore improves healthcare provision by
increasing the reliability of the ACL reconstruction leading to
fewer hospital readmissions for ACL reconstruction failure, which
could lead to a cost saving to the NHS and other healthcare
An ACL revision operation in the NHS costs £3,000-£3,500, and
sometimes two operations are required. Thus, use of GraftBolt could
save up to £6,000 per ACL reconstruction prevented.