Dr Jonathan Jeffers (Biomechanics group) was awarded an NIHR Research Professorship, becoming the first non-clinician to receive this award.
The professorship, worth £2m over five years, aims to deliver an improved range of treatments for patients with early stage arthritis. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the largest funder of health and care research in the UK, backed primarily by the Department of Health and Social Care.
There are 10 million people in the UK with musculoskeletal disorders, affecting their work, family life and relationships. Knee and hip replacement treatments have a 35% failure rate in patients under the age of 60; the goal of the professorship is to provide better options for these younger patients through early interventional procedures that delay or prevent the need for joint replacement.
Dr Jonathan Jeffers and his research group will perform “joint preserving surgery on cadaver specimens, simulate joint activity using a robotic testing platform and measure the biomechanics inside the joint using force, fluid pressure, contact pressure and motion tracking sensors. Our lab is the only one in the UK with this capability. Once we can measure all these things, we will use the information to improve the surgical technique for hip dysplasia and femoral cam pathology.
Implant design has evolved in the past 50 years, but the materials used have not changed drastically and are many times stiffer than bone. When implanted in bone, this takes load away from bone, which causes bone loss – not ideal in an early interventional implant. We therefore need more bone-like materials, and our research group has been able to create such materials by 3-D printing titanium lattice structures that match the properties of bone", Dr Jeffers explains.
The professorship is a collaboration with several key opinion-leading surgeons, including Sarah Muirhead Allwood, Justin Cobb and Marcus Bankes.
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