“Hey, Doc, I need a tune-up.”
This may be a common request doctors receive from athletes and arthritic patients in the near future.
3D bioprinters essentially print human tissue on a printer similar to the ones we use in our homes and businesses. Instead of paper-feed mechanisms, these printers feed slides or other supporting porous materials, such as polymers. The ink is replaced with stem cells, which are printed directly onto the slides or materials.
A chemical inserted during the printing stage allows the cells to be programmed to become cartilage, bone cells, etc.
Current advances in cartilage constructs allow them to be implanted to regrow cartilage in the joints. Combining synthetic materials ensures the strength of the construct. Adding natural gel materials provides an environment that promotes cell growth. These also create durable, implantable constructs that will integrate into the surrounding body tissue.
In the future, cartilage constructs will be clinically applied by using an MRI scan of the injured body part, such as a knee, and creating a matching construct. Once implanted with the hybrid system of durable synthetic materials and stem cells, the implant should withstand mechanical forces while encouraging new cartilage to organize and fill the defect.
Nothing! But it’s exciting news for the potential in improved quality of life for us aging baby boomers.
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