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New Hydrogel Material Surpasses Natural Human Cartilage

Sep, 2022

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Researchers developed a new hydrogel material that is found to be stronger and more durable compared to real natural cartilage, which may become a long-lasting knee implant

As human cartilages wear out with time, it causes joint pain in people. In a new study, a group of researchers at Due University created a novel hydrogel that is stronger and more durable compared to the real natural human cartilage that could become long-lasting knee implants.

Due to natural cartilages, joints get cushioning; however it cannot regenerate after an injury or damage. Current treatment for such cases consist only pain medication, or knee reconstruction. However, the new innovation of this study could soon become available for treatment. Hydrogels have been explored as materials for cartilage replacements in past; however, they were not so efficient. The researchers now have developed a new type of hydrogel material that surpasses the real cartilage. The team created it from cellulose fibers that make the material strong when it is stretched and it goes back to its shape as it is infused with polyvinyl alcohol.

Moreover, the team also made changes in its methods of manufacturing instead of freezing and thawing the material like many of hydrogels. Then the team hardened the material like a glass due to which more crystal forms in the polymer network. The resulting hydrogel is a stronger material with 51 Megapascals tensile strength and 98 Megapascals compressive strength, which is 26% and 66% higher tensile and compressive strength compared to natural cartilage, as per the team. Moreover, this tensile and compressive strength of the new material is five times and tow times more than the hydrogels that are created from freezing and thawing. Along with this, this new artificial cartilage was found to be three times more resistant to wear compared to real human cartilage.

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