May 7 - Researchers in Finland have developed biodegradable joint implants they say will bring permanent pain relief to arthritis sufferers. The implants are designed to replace joints degraded by rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, diseases that afflict millions of people around the world. The following video contains images of surgery that some viewers may find disturbing. Joel Flynn reports.
PLEASE NOTE THIS EDIT CONTAINS IMAGES OF A SURGICAL PROCEDURE Artificial joint replacement, for most arthritis sufferers, is a painful and often temporary solution to severe joint pain. But researchers in Finland say they have now found them a permanent answer. They've developed a biodegradable implant that behaves like a scaffold, allowing cells to regenerate within it's structure. When placed between joints of sufferers of arthritis and other degenerative bone diseases, the RegJoint not only alleviates pain, but also regrows their own tissue. Tampere University's Professor of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Group, Minna Kellomaki, says the implant is revolutionary. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MINNA KELLOMAKI, PROFESSOR OF BIOMATERIALS AND TISSUE ENGINEERING GROUP AT TAMPERE UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "This is biodegradable, so the material is breaking down in molecular level inside the body and then it disappears from the body. But before that happens, the cells of that patient or person, they grow inside the structure and they mature there and that becomes connective tissue, which is between the bone ends and that is working there as a joint." The implants are designed to help repair the joints of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, both of which destroy cartilage that lines the ends of bone, reducing mobility as well as causing pain. The new technology obviates the need for repeated surgeries to replace worn out implants. RegJoint is a collaboration between Tampere University and Scaffdex, whose Managing Director Tuija Annala says results so far hold much promise. (SOUNDBITE)(English) TUIJA ANNALA, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF SCAFFDEX, SAYING: "We have long term clinical trial results showing that we are achieving quite long term good results with this implant, and with the predicate competing device there is life long limitations how much weight you can put on the hand or what kind of exercises you can do with your foot, but with this implant these limitations are not existing." Scaffdex says it expects the implant to be used in an estimated 200,000 foot and hand surgeries a year in Europe and the U.S...providing a permanent, natural solution to one of the world's most common and debilitating diseases. Joel Flynn, Reuters.