Kevlar-based artificial cartilage could help you recover from joint injuries


It is hard to fully recover from knee injuries or other damage to your, if just because there has not been an artificial replacement for cartilage that can withstand as much punishment because of the real thing. that may not be a problem in the long run, though: scientists have developed a Kevlar-based hydrogel that behaves like natural cartilage. It mixes a network of Kevlar nanofibers with polyvinyl alcohol to absorb water at rest (like real cartilage does in idle moments) and become extraordinarily resistant to abuse, but releases it under stress — say, a workout at the gym.

You don’t even need plenty of it to replicate a human body’s sturdiness and overall functionality. a material with 92 % water is about as tough as real cartilage, while a 70 % mix is comparable to rubber. Previous tries at simulating cartilage could not hold enough water to transport nutrients to cells, that created them a poor fit for implants.

There’s a long way to go before the material becomes helpful. Researchers are hoping to patent the substance and find companies to make it a practical reality. The implications are already quite clear, mind you. If it works as well in patients because it does in lab experiments, it could lead on to cartilage implants that are roughly as good because the real tissue they replace. a serious knee injury might not put an end to your running days.

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