APR 11, 2016 08:53 AM PDT

3D ‘Pen' Prints Cartilage Implants from Stem Cells

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
Handheld 3D printer: Surgeon's new tool?
As three-dimensional (3D) printing continues to gain momentum in the field of bioengineering, the challenge now is integrating the technology directly with patient care. Addressing this need, researchers from St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, designed a compact, handheld 3D printing “Biopen” that can make cartilage implants during live operations.
 
Another innovation in the 3D printing Biopen is the ink it uses to print. Instead of synthetic polymers, the handheld device uses a bio-ink containing live human stem cells suspended in a gelatin-based hydrogel solution. As the “ink” is extruded, an ultraviolet light source cross-links the material, hardening it and enabling it to be surgically sculpted into 3D structures.
 
Remarkably, the research team reported high cell survivability, greater than 97 percent, after one week in live cultured experiments using human adipose stem cells. So far the bio-pen serves as a proof-of-concept; it has not yet been used in surgeries yet, but the research team is gearing up for this next, as the biggest advantage of the device is its application in live operation theaters.
 

In few instances in medical procedures are doctors able to use generic pre-printed structures as-is. Most often, the product has to be customized to fit the patient’s unique body plan and shape. This is especially true for artificial cartilage repair surgeries, where doctors can’t even fabricate a pre-printed structure prior to knowing the patient’s exact body geometry. Thus, a handheld printer could truly revolutionize the precision and speed of artificial cartilage implants.
 
With open surgery in mind, the research team made the device out of medical grade plastic and titanium. These materials make the Biopen lightweight and easy to handle, as well as easy to sterilize. Fitting in the one hand, the device seamlessly integrates into surgeries without disruption to doctors’ procedural flow.
 
“The Biopen described in this study paves the way for the use of 3D bioprinting during the surgical process,” the authors wrote. “The ability to directly control the deposition of regenerative scaffolds with or without the presence of live cells during the surgical process presents an exciting advance not only in the fields of cartilage and bone regeneration but also in other fields where tissue regeneration and replacement are critical.”

Additional source: Science Daily
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 09, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
MAY 09, 2018
New "MRI Glove" for Bone and Joint Visualization
The newest in MRI technology literally fits like a glove. NYU School of Medicine scientists have designed an MRI glove that, for the first time, captures c...
MAY 10, 2018
Immunology
MAY 10, 2018
New Biomarker for Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer for both genders and for people all over the globe. This is largely due to the lack of diagnostic...
MAY 14, 2018
Cancer
MAY 14, 2018
What Is Computational Oncology?
Computational Oncology is an emerging field of science and medicine aimed at using mathematical and computer modeling systems to organize tumor marker profiles and hone precision medicine....
MAY 31, 2018
Technology
MAY 31, 2018
PUREGRIP: Safe, User-Friendly Bottles for Biomedical Research
Foxx Life Sciences and Borosil Glass Works Joined up to Create a Lab Bottle Breakthrough...
JUL 11, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
JUL 11, 2018
Certain tests better flag fetuses with brain disorder risk
Fetuses with a specific, rare chromosomal aberration have a 20 percent risk of developmental or other brain disorder, new research shows. The work could le...
SEP 24, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 24, 2018
Towards a Blood Test for Drowsy Driving
Driving is an everyday activity for many people around the world, and it comes with serious risks....
Loading Comments...