When a tendon is severed, the tendon stumps retract, making it difficult for the surgeon to find them for reattachment. Several cuts and additional tissue damage may be unavoidable in order to retrieve the tendon stumps.
Once retrieved, the stumps are sutured together and recovery can begin. However, the unequal strain that the golden standard suture method puts on the tendon, often leads to rupture and/or scar tissue formation, which can result in unsatisfactory functional outcomes
Hand injuries alone make up around 20% of emergency visits, and current treatments result in scarring, loss of function, and 6-7% reoperation. Rehabilitation can take up to 6 months and only 25% of patients have a satisfactory functional result.
This is equally challenging for other types of tendons, though hand tendon ruptures remain the largest market, followed by achilles tendon ruptures, and tendon transfer surgeries.
The new tendon repair system consists of two inventions that can be used separately or in combination:
The first part of the system (tendon retrieval device) is used to retrieve retracted tendon ends using a tubular, endoscopic instrument to find the retracted tendon. This minimizes trauma and surgical exposure created by current retrieval methods, and reduces the chance of adhesion formation.
The second part of the system (tendon augmentation device) rapidly reconnects the ends of the ruptured tendon, offering a more even distribution of stress compared to the current gold standard suturing technique. This leads to a better functional outcome and faster recovery.
Part 1 of the device is at TRL 2. For part 2 of the system, preliminary tests have been done for safety and efficacy in rat, rabbit, and sheep models, putting it at TRL3.
Meet the team
Gina holds a Masters in biotechnology with a focus on synthetic biology from ETH Zurich and worked in management consulting as well as venture capital before joining NLC. She joined NLC as a Venture Developer in February 2020 to help startups succeed and ensure the wealth of innovation surrounding us gets its chance to make a real impact.