According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 150,000 hip replacements and nearly 300,000 knee replacements were performed in the United States in 2000. And according to the New York Times, approximately 806,000 hip and knee implants were performed in the United States in 2007, doubling the number performed a decade earlier. And these numbers are expected to keep swelling in the future as baby boomers age. However, today’s artificial joints are made from metal alloys that often trigger inflammation and immune responses, or require corrective surgery after only a few years.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, our research is aimed at developing bone-like materials that could greatly improve human implants such as artificial hips and shoulders. Thus, the next generation of implants, based on our materials, should be able to repair themselves, adapt to changing physiological conditions, and mesh with surrounding tissue, i.e. behave like real bone.