Researchers with the University of Michigan and Jiangnan University have developed a synthetic cartilage they’ve dubbed “Kevlartilage.” The name is a joining of the words cartilage and Kevlar, the latter being the material this synthetic material is made from. As with the real thing, Kevlartilage is made mostly from water and it is incredibly strong.
Real cartilage is incredibly strong and contains a large amount of water. Synthetic cartilage has failed to mimic these two properties, either offering a lot of water with lesser strength or high strength with inadequate amounts of water. This new Kevlar-based cartilage is different, offering the best of both worlds and holding promise for the hundreds of thousands of people who need knee replacements every year.
The synthetic cartilage is made using hydrogel with nanofibers from Kevlar, the same aramid fibers used to make bulletproof vests. As with real cartilage, the material can release water under strain and reabsorb it when necessary, making it capable of handling the intense strain that the real material undergoes.
The researchers explain that their synthetic material may be suitable for use as implants in patients who need cartilage replacements. However, other applications may benefit from the substance, which itself can be tweaked to have different properties. The material isn’t suitable for use in patients yet and likely won’t be for a long period of time.
SOURCE: University of Michigan