News / Health

Scientists Create Artificial Joint Cartilage

Tiny interwoven fibers make up the three-dimensional fabric “scaffold” into which a strong, pliable hydrogel is integrated and injected with stem cells, forming a framework for growing cartilage. (Photo courtesy of Frank Moutos and Farshid Guilak)
Tiny interwoven fibers make up the three-dimensional fabric “scaffold” into which a strong, pliable hydrogel is integrated and injected with stem cells, forming a framework for growing cartilage. (Photo courtesy of Frank Moutos and Farshid Guilak)
Jessica Berman
For millions of people around the world, arthritis is an unfortunate - and painful - part of getting older. As the condition progresses, it can require surgery to replace with plastic or metal hardware the worn cartilage that no longer cushions the joint. But these artificial joints are not ideal, so researchers using innovative technologies are working to create an artificial cartilage that’s more like the real thing.  

Arthritis is a very painful condition. The operation to treat it is not much better.  Anybody who has had a knee, shoulder or hip joint replaced knows that artificial metal or plastic joints also can be painful and limit movement.  But coming up with a better alternative for eroded cartilage - a substitute that’s both load-bearing and cushioning at the same time - has been a challenge.

Farshid Guilak, professor of mechanical engineering and orthopedic surgery at Duke University in North Carolina, is part of a team working to create a strong yet softer, more supple replacement for worn away cartilage. He foresees that implanting this synthetic cartilage would be a much less radical operation than current joint surgery.

“So, just basically replacing the part that is worn out, not cutting out both sides of the joint and putting a lot of metal in there," said Guilak.

At the heart of the synthetic cartilage is an innovative fabric scaffold, which Guilak and colleagues at Duke developed in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University in Massachusetts. The novel material is made of seven layers of miniscule interwoven fibers, each about as thick as a human hair. A water-based gel is infused into the scaffolding, making it strong, flexible and lubricated.

Then, the patient’s stem cells would be injected into the fabric. Guilak says they could grow between the layers into a living cartilage one millimeter thick that is customized to the patient’s diseased joints.

“I think what we will be able to do if this succeeds is just remove the worn out cartilage and basically cap it with this material, which would just replace the cartilage itself and leave all the native bone in place. So it’s a much less invasive surgery and hopefully replace it with a living cartilage," he said.

Guilak and colleagues are now planning animal experiments with the synthetic cartilage.

An article on the development is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid