A new synthesized hydrogel may help replace lost cartilage in joint replacement patients with osteoarthritis, according to Harvard researchers.
“For a gel to work in those settings, it has to be able to stretch and expand under compression and tension without breaking,” Jeong-Yun Sun, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, stated in a press release.
Using a combination of polyacrylamide and alginate, the synthesized gel can stretch up to 21 times its size and is stronger than gels formed by either material alone, researchers said. Compared to other hydrogels often used as scaffolds for cartilage regeneration, this new “super gel” maintains its mechanical stability and elasticity over multiple stretches.
Sun and colleagues found that, even after the gel cracked, it was able to stretch to 17 times its own size. The researchers said they hope the gel will be an alternative to more invasive-based approaches, such as autologous chondrocyte implantation or joint replacement, in the treatment of patients with osteoarthritis.