Last month, we discussed how medical researchers successfully designed and printed a 3D splint to save the life of an infant born with severe tracheobronchomalacia – a serious birth defect that causes the airway to collapse.
And today we’re taking a closer look at how Melbourne scientists recently took a big step towards the development of “growing your own” cartilage to treat cancers, osteoarthritis and traumatic injuries.
According to the Australian Herald Sun, the pea-sized spheres of cartilage were grown over 28 days using stem cells taken from tissue under the kneecap.
Leveraging 3D printing technologies, the researchers managed to create a 3D scaffold on which to grow cartilage cells, or chondrocytes. Lead researcher Associate Professor Damian Myers said the above-mentioned procedure marked the first time true cartilage had been grown, as opposed to “fibrocartilage,” something which does not work in the long-term.
“It’s very exciting work, and we’ve done the hard yards to show that what we have cultured is what we want for use in surgery for cartilage repair,” he told the Herald Sun. “[Remember], a normal cartilage repair might only last a couple of years.”
Myers also noted that his long-term goal is advanced surgery for limb salvage and repair, including using a patient’s own stem cells to grow muscles, fat, bone and tendons.
And why not?
As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Maker Movement has used Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for quite some time now, although it is abundantly clear that 3D printing has entered a new and important stage in recent months, especially in the medical sphere.