Two engineers from Duke University have come together to build a cartilage substrate from synthetic materials that is the closest production so far that resembles natural cartilage, and outperforms previous synthetic cartilage attempts. Being able to develop these synetheic cartilage scaffolds will be used in animal models in 2014, which is the next step before this candidate and others can be attempted in humans. Nonetheless, synethic cartilage is a vital aspect of scientific research and development, for without cartilage the human body cannot function nearly as well, if hardly at all.
Cartilage in the body wears down over time considerably, and is suspectible to tearing and breaking. Being able to replace old cartilage parts with synethic and bio-synethic designs can help many humans live longer healthier lives, essentially extending the peak years of flexibility, agility, and overall ability to move as if you have more youthful cartilage in the body. Funding for these types of research focuses need to continue to rise, while also shifting the focus slightly to understand the processes of aging itself and how those processes effect the lifespan and pliability of the cartilage within our bodies. One of the engineers in the project had this to say, “It (the designed synthetic cartilage) has all the mechanical properties of native cartilage and can withstand wear and tear without fracturing. From a mechanical standpoint, this technology remedies the issues that other types of synthetic cartilage have had,” says Zhao, founder of Duke’s Soft Active Materials (SAMs) Laboratory. “It’s a very promising candidate for artificial cartilage in the future.
Let’s continue pushing the boundaries of the engineering of science, especially pertaining to our bodies. The more parts of our bodies we can replace, and understand the aging process, the longer, and healthier our lives will become. The idea is just not to live longer, but to “extend” the peak years of health well beyond the normal ranges today. So for instance most of us consider the ages of 15-50ish as the peak years of performance and vitality. Even with proper training and consistent tough exercise, meditation and proper diet, most will still begin to age considerably post 50 years and may extend our peak years a few more, being diligent. However, with the advent of the converging technologies of biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and cognitive science, we will have decades worth of research on replacing body parts, and extending human lifespan, and in particular, the peak years of life. The natural evolution of our species will take us to a new level of life extension. The first human in recent history to live to 150 years has already been born.
Transhumanist Librarian will be back soon with another article.