With great achievements and milestones, one achieves by the time they are approaching 30, comes great risks of wear-and-tear arthritis. As per statistics, one in six adults globally will face wear and tear of cartilage referred to as osteoarthritis. There are endless measures to cure this, on a temporary or extended basis- common pain relievers, ointments, bodily remedies, or overall knee replacement surgical procedures.
There is good news for those who desire to avoid crucial, tiring surgeries to replace the whole knee joint. Researchers from Duke University have created a Gel-based Cartilage that seemingly is more potent and sturdier than Natural Cartilage.
When compared to a Natural Cartilage
The Hydrogel utilized in these implants is a product of Water-absorbing Polymers. These polymers are extra resistant to force, shock and agitation in comparison to natural cartilages.
Cartilages form a thin layer between bones to prevent internal friction, which later results in wear and tear. Hydrogel is connected to a titanium base that is later placed in the spot of the formerly damaged cartilage. Tests have proven Hydrogel to be more firm than your natural cartilage.
While a Natural Cartilage can bear up to 2.5 times a person’s body weight, The Hydrogel disc can bear up to a weight of a 100lbs kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
The clinical industry is familiar with the concept of Hydrogel in the form of Contact Lenses and disposable diapers.
Materials used to bring it to life
The Researchers at Duke University used sheets of cellulose fibers infused with a polymer referred to as Polyvinyl Alcohol to form a gel. At the same time as the Cellulose Fibers play their position as the collagen fibers present in natural cartilage, the Polyvinyl Alcohol brings it back to its original shape once faced with any kind of push, pull or jerk.
The material, being quite robust and sturdy, is 60% water and has a jelly-like texture.
In one of the tests, the Hydrogel-based Cartilage was exposed to 100,000 cycles of consistent pulling. The material ended up exceeding the initial expectations and stayed put after repetitive motion.
When will it be available?
Transferring this groundbreaking creation from the labs into the real world would take a minimum of another 3 years, says material scientists Ben Wiley and Ken Gall. After lab tests and trials, the product will be available commercially. Eventually, a more effective and durable option for people with knee pain will be added to the list in the form of Hydrogel Cartilages.