Summer Student Georgia Ellis
Supervised by Dr Susan Scholes at Newcastle University, Georgia Ellis is developing a pea-protein lubricant to help replace foetal calf serum for the wear testing of artificial joints.
Artificial hip and knee joints improve the lives of millions of people world-wide. For the majority of patients the replacement joint will last 15-20 years or more. However, a proportion of these replacement joints will eventually fail as a result of wear. To improve implant longevity, artificial-joint wear must therefore be tested and reduced before implantation.
In this wear testing, an animal-based lubrication (foetal calf serum) is currently used to replicate the natural lubrication of joints in the body. Sadly, this serum comes from killing a pregnant cow and draining blood from the heart of her calf.
In her summer research project, Georgia investigated replacing the animal-based lubricant with pea-protein to prevent wear in the pre-clinical testing of artificial joints and joint materials. Using pea-protein could increase the reliability, safety and cost efficiency of artificial joint wear testing, in addition to providing a feasible replacement for animal-based lubricants in future joint performance tests.
My summer research project will help to reduce the use of animal experiments by providing an animal-friendly replacement for the lubricant in the testing of artificial joints. I am very happy that I could undertake this project as I am totally against using animals for human benefit – I see all life as equal and hold this very close to my heart.