The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has recently developed a new class of injectable and slow-degrading hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrogels for osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis occurs due to the progressive degradation of articular cartilage in limb joints such as knees and hips can lead to significant pain and restricted mobility.
Injection of lubricants like HA is a common treatment currently, while HA solution degrades quickly, usually lasts for six months to a year. The new HA hydrogels are designed to be slow-degrading and biopolymers-derived for clinical cartilage repair.
‘The hydrogels can also promote recruitment of endogenous cells and be used for delivery of stem cells. They can even help load and control the release of small molecule drugs to enhance the performance on the affected area and reduce the atopic side effects at the same time,’ Prof. Bian Liming, Department of Biomedical Engineering, explained.
His group is collaborating with the Prince Wales Hospital and Shenzhen Second People’s Hospital in clinical and veterinary cartilage repair on subjects like horses and pets. He believes the application of the hydrogels will bring long-term benefit to more patients with varying joint problems in the future.