An international team of researchers consisting of scientists from NUST MISIS and TU Dortmund University has developed a technology to study the behavior of orthopedic implants in laboratory conditions as close as possible to the human body. The technology is notable for its ethics: the research can be carried out in vitro - that is, without involving lab animals. The research article has been published in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.
Endoprosthetics - replacing damaged joints or bones with a high-tech prosthesis - is a complicated surgery which uses the most advanced metal, ceramic, and polymer materials around.
Any implant material undergoes a number of tests, including those for biocompatibility and behavior in mechanically stressful conditions. Since the results of these studies in traditional laboratory settings are quite different from real wear factors, implants are placed in a laboratory animal to check the implant`s behavior inside a living organism. After some time, usually about a year, the implant is removed and the material's biocompatibility and aging are evaluated.
Scientists from the NUST MISIS Center for Composite Materials together with their colleagues from TU Dortmund University have developed a technology that allows them to predict the wear of prosthetic materials under mechanical stress in an environment comparable to the real ones the materials are used in. Specially synthesized liquid simulating human blood plasma and a high-tech servo-hydraulic installation have thus completely replaced the need for an experimental live sample.
The biomimetic UHMWPE developed by researchers from the NUST MISIS Center for Composite Materials was used as a research material.
The economy of time is another significant advantage of the proposed technology. If the assessment of an implant's chemical aging in a living organism takes about a year, the durability tests require decades. The process of chemical aging and wear can be significantly accelerated in conditions of in vitro. If the wear indicators are unsatisfactory, this will be immediately apparent and it will be possible to continue experiments with other samples.