3D printing and the medical industry are becoming more and more closely linked. There have been numerous advances made in recent months, from creating 3D models of broken bones to ensure surgery accuracy to printing organ replicas and more.
Russian scientists have just made another breakthrough using 3D printing – the creation of a new bio-cement that not only holds broken bones together, but actually dissipates naturally into the human body.
The New Bio Cement
The new cement was created at the Russian National Research Nuclear University, and is based on a biological material (hydroxyapatite is a white powder that can become a hard, bone-like substance when mixed correctly). The new process uses hydroxyapatite and 3D printing to help patients heal faster, and without the need for conventional screws and other hardware.
“On the basis of hydroxyapatite, we prepared a liquid material that we can fill a 3D printer with,” stated the projects lead, Professor Vitaly Guzeev. In this example, a patient comes in with a craniocerebral injury (skull injury).
The patient is scanned using a 3D scanner, and that information is then sent to a 3D printer. The printer then recreates the missing bone part, which hardens during the printing process.
One of the most interesting things about this new technique and the material in question is the fact that it’s derived from animal bones. That means it’s completely natural, and unlike screws and rods, it will slowly be absorbed into the patient’s body as their natural bone regrows.
There is no risk of rejection, and healing time is dramatically reduced as well. There is also no need for hardware removal, which requires additional surgery time, recovery time and pain.
“We’ve created material that the organism takes as original,” Vitaly added. “The bone marrow contains mesenchymal cells that migrate to the damaged tissue areas.
They detect our matter as something that can take part in biomechanical processes and start processing it to enable cell division. Regeneration is cell division itself.
As a result, new bone tissue is produced within its own blood vessels and nerve cells.”
While the material is not yet available for use by the medical industry, it has passed initial trials in Moscow, and the team hopes it will soon be made available for approval by other nations.
The potential for this new technique goes well beyond the realm of mending broken bones. It has applications in the field of dentistry, and even in cosmetology.
This is just one more example of how human ingenuity and 3D printing can combine to improve the lives of people around the world, providing better health, faster recovery, and a reduced chance of infections and complications.