Joint replacements have considerably improved the quality of life of patients with joints damaged by disease or trauma. However, one of the major problems is the wear particles generated due to the relative motion between the components of the bearing which can lead to the eventual failure of the implant. The osteolytic process is believed to start with the phagocytosis of particulate wear debris and the activation of macrophages and foreign body giant cells. The macrophages release inflammatory mediators. Some cytokines, such as TNF-α, can indirectly influence osteoclasts. When the equilibrium of bone remodeling is disrupted it leads to excessive resorption resulting in osteolysis and eventually in loosening of the implant.
The development of new implant materials with improved wear resistance and biocompatibility has become more important since implantation into younger and more active people has increased in the recent years. My research project is focused on the manufacturing, wear performance and biological reactions to carbon reinforced polyethylene composites. Through the use of selected carbon nanoparticles, the performance of conventional polyethylene (UHMWPE) can be improved. The project will study the biological response to wear particles produced during the lifetime of the implants. Also, the thermal and tribological performance of these novel nanocomposites will be studied. This project aims to provide an insight into the potential of carbon reinforced polyethylene composites as an alternative to conventional UHMWPE in orthopaedics.