Scientists Develop Artificial Cartilage Gel Strong Enough To Work In Knees

By: | July 7th, 2020

The hydrogel under the pressure of a 100-pound (45-kilogram) kettlebell. (Feichen Yang)

In a big breakthrough, scientists have found a way to replace knee cartilage after injuries or when people age. Researchers have finally developed a material that is as strong as the cartilage found in our bodies.

Basically, knee cartilage is a biological substance.  It provides soft cushion as well as a tough barrier to keep our leg joints from injury. This cartilage can’t be grown back. 

Annually, over 790,000 knee replacements take place in the US, which involve invasive surgery. Moreover, these knee replacements last for few decades and have to be replaced again.

Material best matches natural cartilage

Scientists have developed a hydrogel having mechanical properties of cartilage. It has the strength and modulus of the natural cartilage in both compression and tension. If it gets a green signal for clinical use, it could put forward a great alternative to knee replacement surgeries.

Duke University chemist Ben Wiley, said, “We set out to make the first hydrogel that has the mechanical properties of cartilage,”

The hydrogel is the combination of three different materials. These layers help it retain its shape after being stretched, bent, and crushed. When tested for the strength, the gel was able to withstand tests. These tests include squishing by 100-pound weight, pulled and stretched 100,000 times and rubbed against natural cartilage a million times.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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