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Duke engineers make strides toward artificial cartilage
Date:12/13/2013

2012 collaborated with a team from Harvard University to develop an exceptionally strong yet pliable interpenetrating-network hydrogel.

"It's extremely tough, flexible and formable, yet highly lubricating," Zhao says. "It has all the mechanical properties of native cartilage and can withstand wear and tear without fracturing."

He and Guilak began working together to integrate the hydrogel into the fabric of the 3-D woven scaffolds in a process Zhao compares to pouring concrete over a steel framework.

In their experiments, the researchers compared the resulting composite material to other combinations of Guilak's scaffolding embedded with previously studied hydrogels. The tests showed that Zhao's invention was tougher than the competition with a lower coefficient of friction. And though the resulting material did not quite meet the standards of natural cartilage, it easily outperformed all other known potential artificial replacements across the board, including the hydrogel and scaffolding by themselves.

"From a mechanical standpoint, this technology remedies the issues that other types of synthetic cartilage have had," says Zhao, founder of Duke's Soft Active Materials (SAMs) Laboratory. "It's a very promising candidate for artificial cartilage in the future."

The team's next step will likely be to implant small patches of the synthetic cartilage in animal models, according to Guilak and Zhao.


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Contact: Ken Kingery
ken.kingery@duke.edu
919-660-8414
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert  

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