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World's first biodegradable joint implant grows new joints

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February 29, 2012

Scientists have created the world's first biodegradable joint implant (pictured), which ca...

Scientists have created the world's first biodegradable joint implant (pictured), which causes the body to regrow injured joint tissue

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.

In arthritic joints, the cartilage that protects the connecting ends of the bones has become compromised. This allows the bones themselves to grate against one another, causing pain and reducing the joint's range of movement. A traditional permanent implant replaces the ends of the affected bones with low-friction man-made material.

RegJoint, however, takes a different approach.

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.

Once in place, it reduces pain by acting as a cushioning spacer between the exposed bone ends, while also also restoring a reasonable range of movement, and keeping the already-compromised cartilage from being damaged further. Additionally, however, it triggers the body to produce new fibrous tissue, which proceeds to gradually replace the implant. According to the university, all that's left eventually is a fully-functioning "neojoint," made from the body's own cells.

Recently, RegJoint received CE Mark approval, which will allow it to be sold within Europe - it has already been used in over 200 patients, in clinical trials. Assisting in its development were Conmed Linvatec Biomaterials and Scaffdex Ltd., which is now bringing the implant to market.

Source: Tampere University of Technology

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
6 Comments

Please FDA, get this approved before I actually NEED it for my knees. . . which is gonna happen. . . sigh.

socalboomer
29th February, 2012 @ 03:39 pm PST

Is this truly moving forward? I've seen several articles on this type of research and it never seems to make it to market.

TheSaleem
29th February, 2012 @ 03:46 pm PST

Please let me know when medical technology like this is made for people with degenerative discs. It can me help others in my situation to becoming healthier able bodied contributors. not to mention just be able to run and bend and be active with out pain again.

Gargamoth
1st March, 2012 @ 02:20 pm PST

Gargamoth - take a look at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388881/How-jab-gel-surgery-free-solution-bad-back.html

Nick Hoath
2nd March, 2012 @ 04:29 am PST

this is huge!!!!

Phil Minty
2nd March, 2012 @ 07:05 am PST

Sounds like this is more than moving forward TheSaleem--in clinical trials and approved for sale in Europe.

I like the sound of this solution--have some parts that will need it!

Arf
2nd March, 2012 @ 07:25 am PST
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