Electric Knee Implants could help in Treating Arthritis
Millions of people are suffering from arthritis. Despite taking different types of medicines, there is no relief. In such a situation, electric knee implants may prove to be effective for arthritis patients, because scientists have achieved a technique in which cartilage can be regenerated with the help of electric current.
Arthritis is a common and painful disease, which damages the joints of a person. As the cartilage starts to deteriorate, it starts hitting the bone. Due to this, there is a lot of pain in walking and doing other activities on the knees. This disease occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. This complicates the movement of the knees, leading to pain and stiffness. In this way, a new cartilage developed by scientists helps in reducing knee pain.
Bioengineers in the US state of Connecticut have developed a tiny mesh implant, about half a millimeter thick, that generates a tiny electric current when it senses pressure. It is also called piezoelectricity. In arthritic patients who have had implants, continuous movement in the joints will cause the implant to generate an electric field, which encourages cells to colonize and grow into new cartilage.
In experiments carried out by scientists, cartilage was successfully implanted in the rabbit’s knee. This will go a long way in healing the joints of arthritis patients. This research done for cartilage has been published in Science Translational Medicine. The research was led by Than Nguyen, a bioengineer at the University of Connecticut. Nguyen said the results of the experiment are quite shocking, but the cartilage needs to be tested in larger animals, which are about the same size and weight as humans. If this technique becomes successful, then arthritis patients can be greatly helped and their pain can be reduced.
Old Technology Was Not Effective
At present, for the treatment of gout, the damaged cartilage is replaced with a part taken from any part of the body or donated by a donor. This healthy cartilage is your own, so transplanting it can result in injury to the part of the body from which it was taken. At the same time, if it has been taken from another person, then your immune system may reject it. Let us tell you that earlier, some researchers tried to increase the chemical factors to make the body grow cartilage itself to reduce the pain of chronic arthritis.
Tissue Made From Nanofibers
According to Nguyen, the reconstructed cartilage does not behave like the existing cartilage of the body. It breaks when there is pressure on the joints. Nguyen’s lab has designed a tissue scaffold made from nanofibers of poly-L lactic acid (PLLA), a biodegradable polymer used to stitch up healing wounds. When it is squeezed, it produces a small electric current (piezoelectricity). Lead author Dr. Yang Liu at the University of Connecticut says that piezoelectricity is a phenomenon, which is also present in the human body. Piezoelectric reactions occur in bone, cartilage, collagen, DNA and various proteins. Regular movement of the joints, such as walking, creates a weak, but electric field in the scaffold of a person, which encourages cells to build up and turn into cartilage.
Research will be done on just tested animals
When the research team tested a scaffold in a recently injured rabbit’s knee, it was then jumped onto a treadmill. After this the cartilage grew back in a surprising way. Nguyen’s lab intends to observe the treated animals for at least a year or so, to make sure the cartilage is reliable. They also want to test the PLLA scaffold in older animals, as arthritis primarily affects older humans. According to the NHS, gout occurs in people 40 years of age or older and is more common, especially in women.