Health Gripped to the bone

Gripped to the bone

Joint pain? We all feel the odd twinge as we age, a reminder many will eventually need implants to replace those worn-out body parts.

New tech from The University of Sydney makes the thought a little easier to bear.

A million Australians have received joint replacement devices, with around 90,000 now implanted every year at a cost of $1 billion.

The procedure can be complex as well as costly, partly because our bodies don’t always react well to the sudden appearance of something new and foreign in their midst.

A significant proportion of implants fail due to infection or lack of proper integration with surrounding tissue.

So The University of Sydney collaborated with international institutes to create a new coating that disguises implants as natural body parts, using stem cells to encourage tissue regrowth.

Researcher Benham Akhavan says the coating is both strong and relatively cheap, making it suitable for mass production.

“The implants have been surface-engineered using plasma technology and will be overgrown with bone-producing cells once implanted in the body, allowing them to firmly attach to bone tissue,” he says.

“Rapid implant integration reduces the chance of an implant loosening and failing, therefore eliminating the need for revision surgeries.”

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