Researchers at Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Finland, have developed what they believe to be the first biodegradable joint implant. The implant, called RegJoint, is used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The RegJoint is fabricated from biodegradable polylactide copolymer and is placed inside the capsule that surrounds the joint. It is designed to stimulate growth of connective tissue and soft tissue around the joint in order to replace cartilage lost to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
From the press release:
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis destroy the normally smooth cartilage that lines the ends of bones. As cartilage regenerates poorly, the injuries are difficult to treat. Joint injury reduces mobility and causes pain. The conventional surgical options involve permanent implants or the artificial induction of joint ossification between two bones. RegJoint™ offers an alternative for conventional surgery and has several advantages over permanent implants. For example, the patient’s own bone tissue remains intact during the operation. In addition, the implant makes the reconstruction of the joint more sustainable and cushions the area, relieving pain caused by friction between the bones.
To date the RegJoint implant has received CE approval and has undergone successful clinical trials both in Finland and abroad.