Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Introduction to Synthetic Cartilage

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.

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