Orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Frauens served the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Honolulu, Hawaii, as chief of the department of orthopedic surgery for six years and director of adult reconstructive surgery for 26 years. Dr. John Frauens now leads as founder of SoftJoint, Inc., which has developed a new synthetic cartilage for joint care.
Because human cartilage lacks the ability to heal itself
efficiently, patients with cartilage damage or degeneration frequently
need surgical intervention. Traditionally, interventions have taken the
form of growth stimulation, which requires the surgeon to make holes in
the bone that stimulate the growth of new cartilage tissue. However,
researchers in recent years have made great strides in the development
of materials that take the place of cartilage without the need to wait
for new growth.
Artificial cartilage must be smooth enough to
cushion the joints that it protects, while also being strong enough to
bear the load of a human body. Ideally, the material will also encourage
the growth of new cells to further strengthen the area. Advances to
date have taken the form of a three-dimensional fabric matrix, which
interweaves very thin fibers to create a scaffolded matrix. Recent
developments of durable hydrogels, which are tough yet have a low
coefficient of friction, are proving promising as a potential material
to fill in this matrix and do the job of a patient's natural cartilage.