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Launch of EU Research Project APRICOT: Novel Implants for Osteoarthritis Patients

The seven partners collaborating in the European FET Open project APRICOT aim to develop a radically new type of implant for the treatment of osteoarthritis of small joints in the hand. This novel polymer-based material will not require invasive surgery and enables the preservation of healthy bone and tissue, which makes it outperform currently available techniques.

© APRICOT

To achieve this ambitious goal, the project will receive EUR 3 million funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme over the next four years. With an ageing population being one of the main causes for growing rates of osteoarthritis throughout Europe, the rise of electronic handheld devices has also increased the potential for finger joint arthritis in young adults. Improved bone regeneration solutions are urgently needed, as currently available implants are invasive, sacrifice large amounts of tissue and, most critically, do not restore the original mobility of the joint, which can lead to pain and discomfort in the patients' everyday lives. The new research consortium APRICOT has now set out to develop a novel, extremely thin, self-lubricating implant that is placed between the articulating surfaces of the affected joint. It is minimally invasive, bone conserving and suitable for patients of all ages. "Restoring the natural range of motion of finger joints, APRICOT will go beyond current implant solutions, helping patients return to their normal day-to-day lives," said Professor Martin Browne from the University of Southampton, UK, coordinator of the project. "APRICOT will have a significant societal impact potentially reducing the burden of pain for millions of osteoarthritis sufferers and relieving healthcare systems as a whole." A team of world-leading experts in the fields of implant development, surface functionalisation, additive manufacturing and biocompatibility assessment have been brought together to realise this vision. In addition to the generation of intellectual property across a wide range of technologies, demonstration of proof of principle will increase stakeholder investment, and further support will enable the implant to undergo clinical trials. The APRICOT consortium comprises seven European partner institutions from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. On 11-12 November 2019, they came together for the official project kick-off in Southampton, UK.

Keywords

bone regeneration, implants, surgery, osteoarthritis, FET