Thursday, May 16, 2013

Image post 4: nanodiamonds may solve implant problem

While most posts from The Mix feature a science story, we have also begun sharing images coming out of UAB research. Here is an image of nanodiamonds currently being studied as a potential coating for artificial joints. UAB researchers are exploring whether such coatings can reduce wear on joints made of metal alloys. The work is important because more than 400,000 knee replacements and 300,000 hip replacements are performed each year in the United States.

The grinding force placed on joints causes the artificial versions to shed debris that can cause pain, limit mobility and hasten joint failure. Debris particles are absorbed by scavenging immune cells called macrophages, which then secrete chemicals that cause swelling and pain. This inflammation turns on bone-eating cells near implants, and bone-loss increases the likelihood implants will break loose and require a second surgery.

Diamond coatings may significantly reduce such shedding, and studies are underway to confirm that they are safe and effective. For more information on the work led by Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D.,  director of the UAB Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration, read this 2012 article.

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