PainRelief.com Interview with:
Prof. Hongbin Li
Department of Chemistry
The University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Cartilage degeneration and damage are significant health issues, and cartilage repair is a major challenge because cartilage has a limited capacity for self-repair. One of the strategies for cartilage regeneration is to use scaffolds to promote the growth and differentiation of chondrocytes. For this, the scaffolds need to be tough and stiff to meet the requirements of cartilage regeneration. However, it is challenging to engineer highly stiff and tough materials, as stiffness and toughness are often self-conflicting to each other. In this work, we developed a novel strategy to engineer stiff yet tough protein hydrogels whose mechanical properties mimic those of cartilage. Such engineered stiff and tough protein hydrogels were tested as implants to repair osteochondral defect in an animal model.