We have been talking about 3D printing a lot lately and well, why shouldn’t we? It is proving to be the next big thing. As we’ve repeatedly mentioned; medical is the field thats gaining the most from the advancements in technology. We are witnessing new and improved treatment methods, cures for diseases and implementation of technology like never before. Our today’s post is about a new gadget that employs 3D printing and will be a must for any surgeon soon enough.
This particular gadget is being called a “BioPen” and it will enable doctors to actually ‘draw’ growth factors and live cells right onto the injury area. This gadget has been developed at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia and its target market are the surgeons. The idea is to speed up the recovery process by helping in the restoration of cartilages and functional bones. The working principle is simple; the pen makes use of cell material which is covered by a biopolymer, alginate, and then further engulfed by a gel. This cell material covered by two coatings comes out of the pen’s tip and allows the surgeon to literally draw in and fill the damaged area of the bone.
The material needs to be solidified once it has been used to fill the damaged part and that is achieved by employing the use of an low power ultraviolet light, which is fixed to the pen. This solidification works to protect the cells which are embedded while the surgeon draws, systematically, a 3D scaffold for the bone. These cells are capable of multiplying and differentiating into either muscle, nerve or bone cells in order to eventually create functioning tissue. The device, by making use of the same working principle, can also be employed to ‘draw’ seed growth factors to facilitate recovery and re-growth. Developers are proud of the gadget’s precision and functionality
Professor Peter Choong is leading the clinical partners at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital and the team was provided with the BioPen. He said; ‘This type of treatment may be suitable for repairing acutely damaged bone and cartilage, for example from sporting or motor vehicle injuries. Professor Wallace’s research team brings together the science of stem cells and polymer chemistry to help surgeons design and personalize solutions for reconstructing bone and joint defects in real time.’
An amazing new invention in medical science, isn’t it?