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27 ноября 2018, 20:43

Superglue-Style Hydrogel Could Help Eliminate Joint Pain


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Joint pain is extremely common, yet we still rely mostly on over-the-counter medications for temporary relief.

A new superglue-esque material developed at Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) could revolutionize treatments and provide longer-lasting comfort.

Certain tissues like cartilage have little or no blood supply, leaving them unable to heal if damaged.

So, doctors began injecting hydrogel loaded with repair cells into the damaged areas and stitching it to the tissue with special membranes, in hopes that it would stimulate regeneration.

But it turns out that’s not the best idea.

“This is a paradox because it means that you must further hurt the tissue you are supposed to be treating,” Dominique Pioletti, head of the Laboratory of Biomechanical Orthopedics in EPFL’s School of Engineering, told Digital Trends.

Instead, a substance that instinctively sticks to the tissue—like EPFL’s biocompatible hydrogel—is a much better solution.

Composed of nearly 90 percent water, the biocompatible hydrogel is 10 times more adhesive than commercial options. Plus, its double network structure distributes mechanical energy, boosting its cohesion when compressed or stretched.

“In hydrogels that lack these damping mechanisms, the mechanical stresses are concentrated on the interface between the hydrogel and the tissue, and the hydrogel comes off quite easily,” Pioletti sad in a statement.

“And thanks to its high water content, our hydrogel is very similar in nature to the natural tissue it’s designed to heal,” she added.

Study co-author Martin Broom, head of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the University Hospital of Lausanne, has high hopes for this type of hydrogel, which “could open the door to a large number of potential applications.”

“One day, for example, it might be used in place of metallic materials like titanium to set bone fractures,” he said. “More immediately, we may no longer need to use complex sutures on some types of soft tissue.”

Moving forward, EPFL researchers aim to tailor their hydrogel to specific applications by loading it with different agents.

The team’s research was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces .

More coverage on Geek.com:

Source: https://www.geek.com/news/superglue-style-hydrogel-could-help-eliminate-joint-pain-1762938/?source=science