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Medicine Science

World's First Biodegradable Joint Implant Grows New Joints 102

cylonlover writes "Joint implants should always be made of materials like titanium, so they can last the lifetime of the patient ... right? Well, not according to researchers at Finland's Tampere University of Technology. They've developed a product known as RegJoint, which is reportedly the world's first biodegradable joint implant. Unlike permanent implants, it allows the patient's bone ends to remain intact, and it creates a new joint out of their own tissue."
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World's First Biodegradable Joint Implant Grows New Joints

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:39AM (#39218907)

    They were talking about Marijuana?

  • The details (Score:5, Interesting)

    by arnoldo.j.nunez ( 1300907 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:47AM (#39218937)
    So I'll save anyone wanting to read the article for scientific details the trouble: they don't even mention the material used!

    So I searched around and found this. http://www.scaffdex.com/sites/default/files/RegJoint_IfU_rev_0_1.pdf [scaffdex.com]

    I thought I knew polymers, but my biochemistry is a bit weak. 96L/4D poly-L/D-lactide copolymer fiber. Seems to be porous, is that the key to making a bodily joint?

    Apparently it loses it strength as quickly as within 15 to 24 weeks and then completely loses its strength within a few years. Meanwhile, your body is allowed a framework to develop around after physical trauma.
    • Re:The details (Score:5, Informative)

      by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:27AM (#39219115)
      I went to a presentation about materials in joints around 1998 and one very interesting point was raised by a Japanese researcher.
      Hard joints grind your bone ends into bits. Hundreds of millions of little bits. It does things to the immune system (which attacks solid bone in such situations after being fooled by lots of tiny bits of bone) and creates extra wear on any cartlidge, tendons or anything else in the vicinity. We are bags of mostly water so that stuff doesn't stay put. The life of the joint depends on both it's structure and the damage to the surrounds, which can be measured in inches/centimetres so the replacement joint has to be a lot larger.
      At the time making the surface of a joint very porous and relatively soft was the way things were going since it's now expected that people with artificial joints will live for more than a decade after the joint is put in place. The old style of using very hard materials in direct contact with bone doesn't last long enough.
      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Friday March 02, 2012 @09:01AM (#39219445)

        I'd rather have some kind of hybrid, like a titanium kneecap with this polymer connecting the end joints.

        Dammit, if I'm going to get body parts replaced when I'm older I want to be able to knee someone in the head and have it sound like an aluminum bat hitting a soft ball. *tink!*

        • Re:The details (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @12:08PM (#39220813)

          I'd rather have some kind of hybrid, like a titanium kneecap with this polymer connecting the end joints.

          Dammit, if I'm going to get body parts replaced when I'm older I want to be able to knee someone in the head and have it sound like an aluminum bat hitting a soft ball. *tink!*

          So the spectator sport of cybernetic combat will actually take the form of geriatric men brawling.

          I still think it will sell, though.

    • Re:The details (Score:5, Insightful)

      by muon-catalyzed ( 2483394 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:41AM (#39219169)
      I read TFA and they claim the damaged joint structure regenerates by itself, the copolymer is a scaffold that triggers stem cells to grow a brand new joint structure completely replacing the said copolymer with the body's own tissue after a while. In other words, that would be the holy grail of joint repair, of course, only if the stuff is really working as advertised.
  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @06:55AM (#39218963)

    I wonder what's stoppiong us from creating bones made of bone with stem cells.

    • by sheepe2004 ( 1029824 ) on Friday March 02, 2012 @07:39AM (#39219161) Homepage
      As I understand it the problem is in the other stuff [wikipedia.org] that surround the cells (disclaimer: I only did one very short course on tissue engineering).

      Basically it's a chicken and egg problem: the stem cells need a good structure to grow in but the structure needs to be created by the cells. A solution is to create an implant which allows the cells to grow within it and then gracefully degrades as it is replaced by the natural bone/collagen etc. which seems to be what these guys have done.

      It's a difficult (materials science) problem because there are a lot of requirements. For example it needs to be as tough as bone but break down after a reasonable amount of time. It needs to be non-toxic (before and after breaking down). It of course needs to be cheap(ish) and reasonably easy to mass produce. Anyway there's much more information here [wikipedia.org].
      • Technically it doesn't have to be as hard as bone if the recipient wears a brace or stays off the affected area. Anything that would have the other properties will likely be strong enough and hard enough to support the regrowth period.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        Basically it's a chicken and egg problem

        There is no chicken and egg problem. Dinasaurs layed eggs, and chickens are descended from dinasaurs. The egg came first and everyone should know that by now.

        Besides, who has chicken for breakfast?

        Unfortunately, I saw a poll just this morning that said over half of people thought the chicken came first. There sure are a lot of uneducated people.

    • I wonder what's stoppiong us from creating bones made of bone with stem cells.


    • Or bone transplants,. I imagine it should be a lot easier to get a body to accept foreign but similar bone then some of the other organs they transplant regularly.

      But possibly the titanium bone is actually an improvement?

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        With bones come marrow and an entire immune system. It can probably be done but due to the risks, it's nothing like preferable.

        Besides that, joint replacement is not usually done because the bone failed, generally it's the cartilage that's the problem.

    • by kanto ( 1851816 )

      Doubt there's anything really stopping us, I've seen a science piece of a patient with a new jaw from his own stem cells.

      link to reuters story [reuters.com]

  • Dude, I totally misread the headline. Thought it was something about joints that multiply. Bummer, man.

  • From TFA: "The implant has been in development since the mid 90s, and is intended for use in the small finger and toe joints of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis patients. It is made from a polylactide copolymer, and is inserted within the joint capsule of the affected digit." There are a relatively small part of the total joint replacement world. There are fairly few of these arthroplasties done: usually they are fused with a fair functional result. The joints most often replaced are knees and hip
  • I know not many people think about this but I do everyday. This is a starting point of a possible limb replacement. (of course, not muscle, etc.)
    It's actually pretty miraculous if you ask me.

  • I've been hearing about cool stuff like this for years. When can an ordinary person get it?

  • Around here we just chuck stuff into the bayou..... that's what we call (wait for it..) bayou-degradeable. (Can't pass up this one, now can I?)

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team