Duke University’s cartilage-mimicking 3D printed hydrogels could help repair damaged knees

A team of researchers from Duke University in North Carolina is developing a novel 3D bioprinting material that could one day be used to create patient-specific cartilage implants. The innovative cartilage-mimicking material is made from a hydrogel mixture and could be used to 3D print menisci implants to repair damaged knees.

To anyone who has suffered a knee injury and has been instructed to wear a knee brace for pretty much the rest of their lives, the news coming out of Duke University will be very exciting. In a paper recently published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, a team of researchers from Duke University has described its process of developing a hydrogel-based material that can be 3D printed into custom, cartilage-mimicking structures.

While the project is still in its early stages, the researchers did demonstrate how a low-cost $300 3D printer could be used to 3D print the biocompatible material into a meniscus-shaped structure which was then implanted onto a plastic model of a knee.

“We’ve made it very easy now for anyone to print something that is pretty close in its mechanical properties to cartilage, in a relatively simple and inexpensive process,” explained Benjamin Wiley, an associate professor of chemistry at Duke University who contributed to the research paper.

Menisci, for those unfamiliar with the human knee’s anatomy, are a pair of cartilage-based “shock absorbers” which are located between the thigh and shin bones. They are essentially responsible for cushioning and protecting our bones with every step, jump, and movement we take. But while our menisci protect our knees, they are not impervious to damage themselves, as even minor knee injuries can damage the cartilage, resulting in pain and potentially causing such conditions as arthritis.

By Tess | 3ders.org

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About Peter Coffaro 681 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by MedReps.com as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager and Distributor. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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