Researchers find new method for studying infections in orthopedic implants

Many osteoporosis sufferers receive orthopedic implants to replace bone or cartilage that has deteriorated. Despite advances in design, hospitals have been unable to address bacterial infection, which is the leading cause of failure in this procedure. In an effort to improve this process, researchers from the Stevens Institute of Technology found a new method for studying bacterial infections in the implants.

Dr Joung-Hyun Lee of Stevens, and Dr Jeffrey Kaplan of the New Jersey Dental School, are co-authors of a paper which is currently published in the journal Tissue Engineering. The report demonstrates an approach for studying infection prevention strategies and emulating antibiotic delivery using 3D bone tissues cultured in microfluidic devices.

These devices, combined with dynamic flow settings, have the potential to provide realistic bone tissue models in clinical scenarios. Microfluidic channels present a realistic environment for cells to grow and adhere in three dimensions. Dynamic fluid motion through the channels, with solutions potentially carrying antibiotics or other novel drugs, further mimics real-world conditions which were previously unrealizable in a lab setting.

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