Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Engineered Knee Ligament

PostedSeptember 7, 2008

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Randy Atkins:  Surgical reconstruction of the A-C-L uses donor soft tissue – like tendons – and attaches it to the leg bones.  But the real A-C-L blends soft tissue into bone.  Helen Lu, a Columbia University bioengineer, is re-creating that in the lab.

Helen Lu:  We think that it’s better to pre-engineer the integration outside the body.

Randy Atkins:  Each end of the artificial A-C-L is cartilage because, in the body, bones fuse with cartilage naturally.  Engineers are crafting the perfect mix of calcium content for the rest of the ligament.

Helen Lu:  We’ve already characterized all the mechanical properties, so we know what the design criteria are.

Randy Atkins:  Lu says a structure that mimics the natural A-C-L will minimize joint stress.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, 103 point 5 F-M, WTOP Radio.

Dr. Lu thinks the bioengineered A-C-L could be ready for the clinic within ten years.  To find out more about this story, go to and type in keyword “Engineering Innovation” or go to N-A-E – dot - E-D-U – slash – RADIO.