In what could potentially serve as an important moment in the quest to 3D-print body parts, a team of scientists from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy and Chalmers University of Technology have managed to successfully implant human cartilage cells in six-week-old baby mice.
The researchers created a gel composed of human cartilage cells, printed it through a CELLINK 3D bioprinter and implanted the material inside the lab mice. Once implanted, the tissue began to grow and proliferate inside the animal, eventually vascularizing, with blood vessels growing inside the implanted material. After two months, the material began to more closely resemble human cartilage, which was further stimulated with the addition of stem cells.
The team worked with local plastic surgeons to implant the material, which could one day be used to create more natural implants for patients who have lost ears, noses or knees due to accidents or diseases like cancer.
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Medical devices implanted in the body for drug delivery, sensing, or tissue regeneration usually come under fire from the host’s immune system. Defense cells work to isolate material they consider foreign to the body, building up a wall of dense scar tissue around the devices, which eventually become unable to perform their functions.
Researchers at MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital have identified a signaling molecule that is key to this process of “fibrosis,” and they have shown that blocking the molecule prevents the scar tissue from forming. The findings, reported in the March 20 issue of Nature Materials, could help scientists extend the lifespan of many types of implantable medical devices.
By Anne Trafton | MIT News
Image Credit: Felice Frankel
In 1848, a rail foreman named Phineas Gage was clearing a railroad bend in Vermont when a blast hole exploded, sending the tamping iron he had been using to pack explosives through his left cheek, his brain’s left frontal lobe and finally out the top of his skull before landing 25 yards away, stuck upright in the dirt. Despite his pulverized brain mass, Gage went on to make a full recovery, with the exception of a blinded left eye. It was, by all accounts, miraculous.
But while Gage could walk and talk, those who knew him found that after the accident he seemed, well, different. A local physician who treated him the day of the accident observed that “the equilibrium … between his intellectual faculties and his animal propensities seems to have been destroyed.” His friends put it more simply: Gage, they said, “was no longer Gage.”
Illustration Credit: Angelica Alzona/Gizmodo
Bone infections are often very difficult to treat, and with the rise of MRSA this issue has become only more challenging. A team of researchers from University of Missouri, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, and Silpakorn University in Thailand has developed a way of making tissue scaffolds that ward off MRSA while promoting natural healing at the site of their implantation.
The structure of the scaffold is made of polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer commonly used in implants. It is bioresorbable and is removed by the body over time. Over the structure a coating of silver ion is applied and stem cells ready to differentiate into bone are added.
The silver ions, already widely used to ward off infections in a variety of medical applications, prevent MRSA from settling in, while the stem cells turn to bone. The PLA structure and silver eventually disappear, leaving nothing but natural tissue.
Image Credit: Medgadget
Human innovation continues to push forward in so many directions. In all walks of science, researchers are achieving new “firsts” in the pursuit of a better life for the people of the world. Now, doctors in India, a country that has been basking in its recent record-breaking satellite launch, have completed the nation’s first 3D-printed spinal restoration surgery.
The patient, a 32-year-old Indian woman, lost her ability to walk due to a severe case of tuberculosis. The disease commonly affects the lungs, but it traveled to the woman’s spinal cord when her immune system was particularly weakened by drugs she was prescribed for infertility. The tuberculosis compromised her first, second, and third cervical vertebrae, removing support for both her skull and lower spine.
By Neil C. Bhavsar | Futurism
Image Credit: Sanjay Kumar Pathak / 3Dprint.com
3D printing has had and will continue to have impacts on many areas. One of the most hotly anticipated areas for 3D printing to impact is medicine. A myriad of stories have appeared pointing to all manner of exciting innovations in the medical field. Sadly many of the “3D printed ear/nose/heart/ etc.” stories have been rather disingenuous or are at the very least very optimistic. To give you a more accurate view of the possibilities of 3D printing in medicine we’ll look at one particular area: surgery. In surgery there are a number of things happening currently with 3D printing and a number of things that may happen. In general we can say that 3D printing will have a considerable impact on surgery in the near term but that we can not fully predict future impacts at this moment. First we will look at what is happening right now in medical offices, surgical theaters and in patients.
Image Credit: Materialise
Several years ago Edward Evans fell seriously ill when an infection began eating away at his sternum – the bone at the centre of the ribcage that protects the vital organs in the chest. Medication failed to eradicate the problem, so Edward had to undergo surgery to have the infected sternum and parts of his adjacent ribs removed.
At the time, it was impossible for the surgeons to do anything more than cover the resulting defect with Edward’s own muscle, because putting any foreign object into his chest when infection was rampant would almost certainly have resulted in that foreign material also becoming infected.
Edward recovered well from this surgery, but the absence of a solid sternum meant that his heart and lungs were extremely vulnerable, and his quality of life was limited. So doctors at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham arranged for Edward to undergo another operation to have a new sternum implanted.
By BBC (UK)
Image Credit: BBC (UK)