Tech UPTechnologyCreate artificial bones in 3D to repair fractures

Create artificial bones in 3D to repair fractures

A team of American engineers has developed a 3D printable ink that produces implantable synthetic bone that induces natural bone to regenerate and grow . This hyperelastic bone material , whose shape can be customized , could be very useful in treating many problems, including deficiencies or defects in the skeleton of children, as well as in repairing the most complicated fractures.

Currently, for this type of large fractures, various solutions are used, such as bone autografts, products with calcium phosphate, with putties or mechanical implants. But in the future there could be the possibility of creating personalized and cheap implants thanks to this 3D printing system that will allow the manufacture of custom artificial bones. So far, scientists from Northwestern and Illinois Universities authors of the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine , have already successfully repaired damage to the spine of rats, as well as a malformation in the skull of a Rhesus macaque. These implants – baptized as hyperelastic bones – are flexible and resistant , they can regenerate damaged bone without help and are easy to place during an operation , since they are very porous, which facilitates the migration of cells and allows the infiltration of the vessels. blood.

Bone grafts are expensive and too fragile and difficult for surgeons to handle, while these artificial bones can be used to treat dental problems, perform plastic or reconstructive surgery, and even cure bone cancers. The material from which they are made is bioactive and induces the differentiation of stem cells into bone-forming cells, according to the researchers who have made them. 75% of its total volume is composed of hydroxyapatite, the main mineral of natural bone, thus avoiding possible rejections or reactions to a foreign body, as can occur in natural bone grafts. The other component is the cementitious polymer, poly-lactic-co-glycolic acid or polycaprolactone, which is used as the suture material. They are biocompatible and biodegradable polymers. Known and safe synthetic materials have been used to reduce the possible side effects of the interventions.

The physical and mechanical properties of these materials allow the creation of customized implants that are adapted to the problems of each patient, and they will be even more effective when applied with the help of CT images, which were not used in the experiments with rats and monkeys. What the experts did was print bones of an approximate size and then cut the material to fit it in the precise measurements in each case. Even so, the implants managed to integrate with the surrounding tissue to heal the vertebrae of the rats and the cranial malformation of the macaque, without causing infections or other side effects. This is why the field of 3D printing seems to have an extraordinary future.

Caption: Profile cutaway of a 3D printed adult human femur.
Image credit: Courtesy of Northwestern University

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