SOURCE: Kettering University

Kettering University

February 03, 2010 07:17 ET

Research at Kettering University Seeks to Prolong the Lifespan of Artificial Hips

FLINT, MI--(Marketwire - February 3, 2010) - An interdisciplinary project at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., is drawing on several academic departments to prolong the lifespan of artificial hip components.

Dr. Ali Zand of Kettering's Chemistry/Biochemistry Dept. leads the wear testing project on high density polyethylene used in replacement components. The project, which has received $80,000 in support from Flint's McLaren Regional Medical Center, seeks to create a sample polyethylene placard that shows dramatically less wear mass/degradation. Zand's team hopes to provide data to component manufacturers regarding the use of biopolymers and their ability to extend the life of hip replacement components to increase a patient's quality of life.

The project examines the potential of using surface modified, ultra high molecular polyethylene material in joint replacements. The bearing surface of the polymer within the joint is modified through the introduction of hydrophilic, water loving groups, which allow the biological solutions found within the body and joint to act as lubricants for this surface and lead to reduction of wear. The team utilizes two methods to accomplish this surface modification: the first is chemical modification and the second procedure grafts a biocompatible polymer onto the surcae of UHMWPE. The chemical modification employs the Beholztech Process, created by Dr. Lars Beholz, a Kettering laboratory manager for the Chemistry/Biochemistry Dept. This process is the only means by which surfaces of inexpensive, inert polymers are chemically modified in a 100 percent water-borne media without using flames or chemicals.

The team also utilizes a pin and plate wear testing robot that was designed and built at Kettering. Testing takes places on two sets of placards: those that are surfaced modified and those left untreated as a control set. Wear testing is performed to simulate accelerated wear within artificial joints to determine which treatment is more resilient to frictional wear and causes less mass loss. The idea is to treat placard surfaces with liquid to change molecular structures, thereby eliminating further bone degradation. The team is working to determine which specific modified polymer surface leads to less wear on the cup. For more, visit

Kettering University is the home of the country's most advanced professional co-op program; visit:

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