Dr Jude Meakin from the University of Exeter (UK) discusses her work towards developing image driven subject specific spine models along with developments towards tailored individual patient orthopaedic interventions, digital diagnostics and implants.
Cartilage-related diseases are a promising field to explore in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The cartilage hydrated structure is aneural, avascular, and non-lymphatic, which complicates natural regeneration [1,2]. The increase in life expectancy and obesity is directly correlated to osteoarthritis –the disease caused by the degradation of cartilage. The painful consequences also increase comorbidities and burden patients and healthcare providers with exorbitant costs [3,4].
Currently, surgical and non-surgical therapies are employed to address osteoarthritis. They are not permanent solutions [5–7]. Therefore, several groups are developing hydrogels [8,9], electrospun mats , and other biomaterials to mimic the natural properties of cartilage. These implants can increase patients’ quality of life, reducing pain, comorbidities, and other undesirable effects after their clinical trials and regulatory agency approval.
Yilmaz and Zeugolis discuss the promises, challenges, and future perspectives of electrospinning applied to cartilage tissue engineering . They emphasize that although electrospinning literature is abundant in the Pubmed database, few studies explore electrospining’s potential applied to cartilage tissue engineering. The authors demonstrate with pre-clinical results that stem cell-seeded electrospun scaffolds combined with other techniques (3D printing and freeze-drying) can recover lubricating properties, mechanical resistance and restore cartilage tissue properties . Although the reviewed studies consider small animals (rats, mice, and rabbits), they are promising to people suffering from the pain and harmful effects of osteoarthritis worldwide .
This article was written by André Plath as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.
André is researching Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds at ETH Zürich, Switzerland.
 L.M. Billesberger, K.M. Fisher, Y.J. Qadri, R.L. Boortz-Marx, Procedural Treatments for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Review of Current Injectable Therapies, Pain Res. Manag. 2020 (2020) 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/3873098.
 E.D. Bonnevie, V.J. Baro, L. Wang, D.L. Burris, Fluid load support during localized indentation of cartilage with a spherical probe, J. Biomech. 45 (2012) 1036–1041. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.12.019.
 S. Glyn-Jones, A.J.R. Palmer, R. Agricola, A.J. Price, T.L. Vincent, H. Weinans, A.J. Carr, Osteoarthritis, in: Lancet, Lancet Publishing Group, 2015: pp. 376–387. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60802-3.
 D.J. Hunter, L. March, M. Chew, Osteoarthritis in 2020 and beyond: a Lancet Commission, Lancet. 396 (2020) 1711–1712. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32230-3.
 Y. Lee, J. Choi, N.S. Hwang, Regulation of lubricin for functional cartilage tissue regeneration: a review, Biomater. Res. 22 (2018) 9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40824-018-0118-x.
 G. Musumeci, C. Loreto, M.L. Carnazza, F. Coppolino, V. Cardile, R. Leonardi, Lubricin is expressed in chondrocytes derived from osteoarthritic cartilage encapsulated in poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate scaffold, Eur. J. Histochem. 55 (2011) 31. https://doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2011.e31.
 W. Kabir, C. Di Bella, I. Jo, D. Gould, P.F.M. Choong, Human Stem Cell Based Tissue Engineering for In Vivo Cartilage Repair: A Systematic Review, Tissue Eng. Part B Rev. 27 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1089/ten.teb.2020.0155.
 Y. Gombert, R. Simič, F. Roncoroni, M. Dübner, T. Geue, N.D. Spencer, Structuring Hydrogel Surfaces for Tribology, Adv. Mater. Interfaces. 6 (2019) 1901320. https://doi.org/10.1002/admi.201901320.
 M. Jurak, A.E. Wiącek, A. Ładniak, K. Przykaza, K. Szafran, What affects the biocompatibility of polymers?, Adv. Colloid Interface Sci. 294 (2021) 102451. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cis.2021.102451.
 J.K. Wise, A.L. Yarin, C.M. Megaridis, M. Cho, Chondrogenic Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Oriented Nanofibrous Scaffolds: Engineering the Superficial Zone of Articular Cartilage, Tissue Eng. Part A. 15 (2009) 913–921. https://doi.org/10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0109.
 E.N. Yilmaz, D.I. Zeugolis, Electrospun Polymers in Cartilage Engineering—State of Play, Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 8 (2020). https://doi.org/10.3389/fbioe.2020.00077.
In Episode 5 of BioTrib Conversations, Prof Nazanin Emami (BioTrib Lead Scientist, Luleå University of Technology) discusses with Prof Richard Hall (BioTrib Co-ordinator, University of Leeds) her career path to becoming a leading researcher in biotribology and the importance of a clinical understanding within medical device development.
Early Stage Researchers within the NU-SPINE ETN produced six videos for BeCurious outreach events in 2020/21.
Cervical Total Disc Replacement – Faizal Kamarol
Have you or anyone you know ever suffered from a neck problem? Faizal Kamarol from the University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering explains research into Cervical Total Disc Replacement (CTDR), a procedure for patients who suffer wear and tear of the spinal discs in the neck.
Developing Spinal Simulators – Kaushikk Iyer
Kaushikk Iyer from the Unviersity of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering and Key Engineering Solutions is developing spinal simulators to help test spinal disc implants, to ensure they can be used to treat patients safely.
Tribology of facet joints – Beril Saadet Yenigul
Beril Saadet Yenigul from the NU-SPINE project at the University of Leeds gives an introduction to biotribology, facet joints, and the challenges of designing facet joint replacements!
Spinal fusion surgery – Xiaoyu Du
Xiaoyu Du from the NU-SPINE project at ETH Zurich, interrupts cooking dinner to show us how spinal fusion surgery works with some of her ingredients!
Structural engineering – Thijs Smit
Thijs Smit from the NU-SPINE project at the University of Science and Technology, ETH Zurich, shows us some do-it-yourself engineering, using… LEGO! Why not try building your own super-strong structure at home with lego too?
Understanding Non-Newtonian Fluid with SLIME! – Yijun Zhou
With the help of ‘Ms Shark’, Yijun Zhou from the NU-SPINE project at Uppsala University shows us a fun Non-Newtonian fluid experiment you can do at home by making SLIME!
In Episode 4 of Biotrib Conversations Professor Rod Barrett and Dr. Claudio Pizzolato from Griffith University (Australia) discuss the importance of mechanobiology and cutting edge digital twin models for neuromusculoskeletal rehabilitation along with recent advances made within the innovative BioSpine programme.
Collectively, verification and validation are a cornerstone of many areas of research, none more so that in engineering and the physical sciences. Yet many early stage researchers have yet to appreciate their definitions or fully understand the signficance of these activities. William Morales’, blog provides a brief introduction to Device Design Verification and Validation – useful for those just beginning in their careers in the MedTech arena or indeed anyone who needs a quick refresher. However, there is still of lot of discussion about the use of the terms particulary between fields as there maybe nuances or historical context that means the defintions deviate – for instance the article at ResearchGate by Ryan and Wheatcroft (2017). Simple defintions may employ something along the lines of:
verification - am I building something right
validation - am I building the right something
Software engineering, an increasingly important aspect of medical devices, especially through the rise of in situ/in vivo monitoring, has it owns definitions. Sargent defines the processes by which a researcher can V&V computational simulations whilst Viceconti et al (2021) discuss V&V for in silico trials.
An exciting paper discussing the feasibility of binary and ternary carbide coatings for load-bearing implants with improved biocompatibility was published by Pana and co-workers in 2020. The peer-reviewed article was published in the Coatings journal and it is titled “In vitro corrosion and tribocorrosion performance of biocompatible carbide coatings”.
This work assessed elemental and phase composition, tribo-mechanical properties, corrosion and tribocorrosion of coatings deposited by cathodic arc evaporation on polished 316L SS discs (Ra = 50 ± 2 nm). TiNbC coating outperformed the other synthesized coatings in terms of initial surface roughness and corrosion resistance (shown by the lowest change in Ra before and after corrosion tests). Even though ZrC and TiNbC displayed similar polished wear tracks, the latter exhibited the lowest friction coefficient and wear rate on the tribocorrosion tests.
These results delivery an important advancement towards the development of coatings more biocompatible, presenting higher corrosion resistance along with improved tribocorrosion performance. The graphical abstract shown below showcases some of the results of this worth reading paper.
This post was written by Pedro Luiz Lima dos Santos as part of an ongoing series of scientific communications written and curated by BioTrib’s Early Stage Researchers.
Pedro is researching the Functional Biotribology of the Surface Engineering of 3D Printed Components at the University of Leeds, UK.
BioTrib welcomes André Plath who has started as an Early Stage Researcher at the ETH Zurich within Prof Stephen Ferguson’s Group. Like Pedro, André is from Brazil. André will surely be pleased with the performance of his home country in the Olympics where the Brazilian Footbal Team won an exciting game over another soccer ‘Super-Power’ Spain, 2-1. Whilst at ETH Zurich, André will research Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds as he brings new technologies to the fore for improving joint replacement and/or augmentation.
Professor Anthony Redmond discusses his experience working in LifeLongJoints and the developments made towards preclinical testing for medical devices following recent lessons learned about insufficient testing leading to severe in vivo failure of hip replacements.
BioTrib Co-ordinator Professor Richard Hall interviews Frank Marx the Deputy Head of Unit at the European Research Executive Agency on the challenges of organising and co-ordinating large collaborative European Training Networks for advanced research training.