In order to regenerate, knee cartilage, paradoxically, needs to be placed under mechanical stress, as happens whenever we take a step and our knees take our weight. When stimulated in this way, the cartilage cells develop receptors that are sensitive to the growth factors produced by the organism.
It is also at this very moment that they would be most receptive to medication. Working on this basis, Dominique Pioletti and Harm-Anton Klok from EPF Lausanne have developed a smart material that only releases a substance when the material is mechanically loaded.Threshold effect
The researchers then wanted to verify that it was actually the heating process resulting from the repetition of the mechanical loading that caused the dye to be released. During an initial experiment, the material was subjected to cyclic mechanical loading but the heat produced was evacuated in order to prevent any local temperature increase in the material. “This test enabled us to exclude a sponge-type function, whereby the dye was only being released as a result of the pressure,” explains Dominique Pioletti. During a second experiment, the nanoparticles were removed. The matrix heated up as expected due to the cyclic mechanical loading but none of the dye was released. The researchers concluded that the three elements of the composite material were required for the system as a whole to function as intended.Long-term prospects
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