Now this is something that is may make a big difference. Researchers at Harvard University have created a ‘super-gel’ and they believe it has great potential as new treatment for osteoarthritis.
The Market Oracle reported on this breakthrough new treatment for osteoarthritis describing the super-gel as
The compound is made mostly of water, but it’s almost unbelievably tough, strong, and resilient. It can stretch to more than 20 times its original length.
Not only that, but it can actually heal itself, too. Given time to relax between stretches, the bonds in the compound are able to “re-zip,” self-repairing any cuts or breaks.
Take a look at this super-gel at work:
That is an amazing compound and it takes little to imagine how this could be used as artificial cartilage.
They go on to describe it further
To create this super-gel, the group of researchers combined two different hydrogels, each of which is pretty weak on its own.
The main ingredient is the first gel, polyacrylamide, used in make-up and skin lotions. The team combined eight parts of this with one part of the second gel, alginate. It’s a seaweed extract often used to make food thicker.
Now here’s the part I think is just plain brilliant…
Once combined, the two polymers form a complex network of cross-linked chains that reinforce each other. That’s what gives the gel its incredible strength. The chemical structure of this network allows the molecules to pull apart and expand over a large area, rather than become brittle or simply break.
If the gel suffers a tiny crack as it stretches, the chemical bonds will repair themselves. It seems nothing can weaken this substance. Team members showed that even when the gel sustains a major hole, it can still stretch to 17 times its initial length.
Therein lies its promise. For it to work in the body and replace cartilage, the gel must be able to expand and contract millions of times under pressure without breaking.
And since it’s made of water and two benign compounds, it’s almost certain the gel will work in the body without harmful side effects.
Will this New Treatment for Osteoarthritis Be Suitable for Everyone?
I think the biggest problem will be not in the super-gel itself but fixing it in place.
Firstly there is the actual surgery. To get inside the knee means cutting ligaments and damaging the integrity of the muscles and tendons. Therefore there will still be a reasonably long rehab period- much the same as joint replacement surgery. I would also be concerned about using it in the spine as there are high risks associated with any spinal surgery (though you wouldn’t know it listening to the surgeons sometimes!)
Secondly they have to find a way to fix the gel to the bone that is as strong as the gel itself or it will not stay in the right position and squash out the side.
All in all this super-gel shows great promise and is an exciting prospective new treatment for osteoarthritis. In the mean time sign up for my free 3 day course and learn about more mundane current treatments for osteoarthritis!