Repairing cartilage using polymers

 

80% of people over the age of 60 are negatively influenced by cartilage disease in Australia every year. At present, the solutions to repair cartilage disease involve invasive open surgery that is painful, costly and can be dangerous. Our project was to tune the properties of a useful and safe polymer to ensure it best promotes cartilage regeneration.

 

To achieve our goals, therefore, we have worked to develop a new injectable material for cartilage treatment, which has resulted in the development of the PNHPO polymer. This injectable polymer has many unique properties such as that it has similar properties to naturally occurring cartilage and it degrades with the same rate that natural cartilage regenerations. Therefore, this biomaterial offers simple and cheap clinically applicable solution through the non-invasive means of an injection. Furthermore, it is water-soluble thus not harmful to the body and eventually dissolves in the body whilst also capable of stimulating natural cell growth because of the polymer’s compatibility with proteins.  Preliminary research has yielded results that show that high protein concentration prevents the formation of the gel + (waiting for results). However, more fine-tuning is needed to fully optimise the properties of the biomaterial for cartilage regeneration.  

Mark George, Markus Rangan & Jordan Gao

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