3D bioprinting is an area where 3D printing technology is used to make biomedical objects. They, in turn, in the future, if necessary, will be used to create replacement organs or other parts of the human body. Yes, science has not yet reached this point, but over the past two decades it has already made great strides in this direction.
As for bones, the ability to create them on a 3D printer will allow not only replacing and restoring damaged areas, but also treating serious diseases.
Specialists from the University of South Wales in Sydney (Australia), engaged in the creation of technologies for 3D printing bones, have succeeded in developing a special ceramic-based ink with living cells. The gel does not contain hazardous chemicals, so it can be used in the human body and can also be handled at room temperature.
The ink hardens in an aqueous medium directly in the body cavities of the patient: first they turn into a paste, then into a porous nanocrystalline material with the same structure as in bone tissue. Living cells divide in an artificial structure a few weeks after printing and 95% of them survive. Another advantage of the new inks is compatibility with standard 3D printers. But in addition, you need a nozzle-needle 0.2-0.8 mm.
The new technology is needed for scenarios in which a certain part of the bone has been removed or destroyed. This method is the first of its kind that can create a structure that accurately mimics the physical and biological characteristics of a person’s native bone tissue. This, in turn, opens up many possibilities, including for correcting large bone defects, in which the body cannot automatically repair itself, and such defects can lead to complete loss of a limb. The technology can also be used to create bone models for scientists studying the physiology and pathology of bones, or for screening drugs in the development of new drugs.
So far, the bioengineering team has already optimized the printing process, ink and gelatin bath, in which they create bone-like structures using living cells. So far, scientists are successfully printing small bone structures using the new ink. The next step is to conduct small animal trials to see if the technology can be used to heal large wounds.
At present, the technology makes it possible to produce specific synthetic grafts in laboratory conditions — the laboratory has all the necessary biological objects of the native bone. In the long term, the authors want ink and printers to be located directly in operating rooms – so it will be possible to do bone reconstruction right during the operation.