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article image3D printed cartilage shows success

By Tim Sandle     Mar 17, 2016 in Health
A successful use of the 3D printing in the medical field has been reported. This is with the generation of cartilage, used in surgery to assist those suffering with arthritis.
Those suffering with arthritis, or sports injuries, can lose cartilage and this causes considerable pain. Replacement surgery, designed to use material analogous to cartilage, can be attempted but one of the problems is with generating material of the right shape or quality.
Improvements with the material (using biological material), and with the form and dimensions required, is now possible due to a special type of additive printing called 3D bioprinting (a variant of 3D printing.) With this process, an ink containing human cells is used. Thus 3D bioprinting is the process of generating spatially-controlled cell patterns using established 3D printing technology. Here, the cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct and, ideally, retain functionality in the human body.
The printing technology was devised at the Wallenberg Wood Science Center in Sweden, led by Dr. Paul Gatenholm. The process took a human cell ink (human chondrocytes, the cells that build up cartilage) and further modified it so that it would retain its form and shape after printing.
The bio-ink was strengthened by mixing it with polysaccharides derived from brown algae.
Further details of the process are shown in the video below:
The video shows the researchers printing living cells in a specific architectural shape designed to fit into a defined body location.
To date the process has only been tested on animals (mice); however, the success of this has paved the way for human trials. In the longer term, the researchers hope to use the technology for other forms of surgery, such as repairing damaged noses or ears. This would align the technology with plastic surgeon to create bespoke replacement body parts.
With the animal tests the researchers successfully printed tissue samples and implanted them into mice. Here it was observed that the cells survived and went on to produce cartilage.
The research has yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal and developments are continuing.
More about bioprinting, 3D printing, Cartilage, Bone, Arthritis
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