Hyaline cartilage is a strong durable material that lubricates joint movement. Due to its avascular structure, cartilage has a poor self-healing ability, thus, a challenge in joint recovery. When severely damaged, cartilage may need to be replaced. However, currently we are unable to replicate the hyaline cartilage, and as such, alternative materials with considerably different properties are used. This results in undesirable side effects, including inadequate lubrication, wear debris, wear of the opposing articular cartilage, and weakening of the surrounding tissue. With the number of surgeries for cartilage repair increasing, a need for materials that can better mimic cartilage, and support the surrounding material in its typical function, is becoming evident. Here, we present a brief overview of the structure and properties of the hyaline cartilage and the current methods for cartilage repair. We then highlight some of the alternative materials under development as potential methods of repair; this is followed by an overview of the development of tough hydrogels. In particular, double network (DN) hydrogels are a promising replacement material, with continually improving physical properties. These hydrogels are coming closer to replicating the strength and toughness of the hyaline cartilage, while offering excellent lubrication. We conclude by highlighting several different methods of integrating replacement materials with the native joint to ensure stability and optimal behaviour.
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