Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Silk-based mats for treating arthritis

Researchers have synthesised mats that mimic natural cartilage-bone interface and can be used to grow cartilage and bone cells1. These could be implanted to repair worn-out joints in arthritis sufferers.

Ageing, a sedentary lifestyle and sports-related injuries often damage bone joints, breaking down cartilage and diminishing bone cells. If left untreated this can cause pain and swelling, eventually leading to osteoarthritis.

To find a way to heal bone joints, scientists led by Biman Mandal from the Indian Institute of Technology in Guwahati, India and University College London, produced the bilayer composite mats by using silk protein fibroin and ceramic-based bioactive glass. After two weeks of culture they tested their efficiency as scaffolds for regenerating specific animal-derived cartilage and human bone cells.

The mats adsorbed specific proteins that regulated the cell-matrix interaction, accelerating the growth of the bone and cartilage cells. Biochemical analyses revealed the expression of genes and proteins specific to these cells. When cultured with specific animal-derived immune cells, the mats didn’t induce any adverse immune responses, indicating biocompatibility.

“The composite mats are a potential candidate as green materials to repair bone defects caused by osteoarthritis,” says Mandal.



  1. M, J. C. et al. ACS. Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 9, 8000-8013 (2017)

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Nature Careers


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links