Dr. Cy Frank seeks at understanding the structure and function of a normal ligament, and how they differ from an injured, or healing ligament. This interest was influenced by his knee injury, which resulted from years of playing sports.
His goal is to repair or replace damaged ligaments, and return their function to near normal as quickly as possible. For this, he needs to understand why ligament injury leads to osteoarthritis and how this can be delayed or prevented.
Dr. Frank's approach is multidisciplinary. His research team, composed of biologists and bioengineers, utilize ultrastructural pathology, histology, biomechanics, biochemical, molecular biology, kinematics and robotics to study ligaments.
Part of Dr. Frank's research is the study of scarring on healed ligaments. Scarring replaces damaged ligaments, and offers support in lieu of a proper ligament. However, scar tissue does not function as a healthy ligament and may cause the joint to not perform optimally. Dr. Frank studies how the scar tissue can be manipulated by chemicals, gene therapy and rehabilitation to function more like a healthy ligament.
Dr. Frank works with patients who may develop osteoarthritis. For high risk patients, their injured ligament can be replaced with a healthy one. For low risk patients, the goal is to keep them from further damaging their knee. This can be done through physiotherapy, wearing a brace, or surgery.
The Anterior Cruciate ligament, the most commonly injured ligament in the knee, is the focus of Dr. Frank's current research. He uses animal models to study normal, injured and transplanted ligaments.
Knee injury affects quality of life and has a significant impact on the health care system. Creating new treatments for knee injury, reducing the number of people who have osteoarthritis and decreasing waiting times for surgery will improve patient care and promote living and playing without fear of pain or further injury.