Stretching implant life – ideas from Cambridge University’s Engineering Department
A researcher from Cambridge University’s engineering department has been awarded a €1.5m (£0.9m) grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to set up a research group to improve the lifespan of prosthetic implants such as hip replacements.
Researcher Athina Markaki and her team are working on a therapy whereby controlled levels of mechanical strain could be induced directly in growing bone via the prosthesis itself.
The idea is that the implant should have a highly porous surface layer, made by bonding ferromagnetic fibres together, into which bone tissue growth would occur. During the post-operative period, the application of a magnetic field will then cause the fibre network to deform elastically, as individual fibres tend to align with the field. This will impose strains on the bone tissue as it grows into the fibre network.