Sheffield research could make hip implants more effective

Dr Alison Gartland from Sheffield University.
Dr Alison Gartland from Sheffield University.
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Sheffield University medics have developed a technique which will make hip implants safer – reducing the need for a second bout of surgery.

Friction from implants releases toxic metal particles which can enter into surrounding bone cells, making them loose and in need of replacement.

Now researchers have identified a molecule which can be targeted by x-rays to reduce the loosening effect.

Dr Alison Gartland, s enior lecturer in bone biology, said: “We found metal ions in different places within two types of bone cells, suggesting they get into the cells by separate ways.

“When investigating how the metals entered bone cells, we found that when they blocked a molecule called the P2X7 receptor using a specific drug, the entry of metals into the bone cells was reduced.

“These results are exciting because if we can prevent the entry of the metal into these cells, we can hopefully prevent the joint from failing.”

Over the last decade it is estimated nearly half a million hips have been replaced in England and Wales as a result of osteoarthritis. It is the most common joint disorder, affecting eight million people in the UK alone.