Three-dimensional imaging on the left shows how bone, in green, replaced the...
Three-dimensional imaging on the left shows how bone, in green, replaced the bioactive ceramic scaffold, in purple, over a six-month period. Microscope images on the right show progressively increasing degrees of bone, stained pink, and lower amount of scaffold, in black, as time goes by in the body.
Source: Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

3D printed implants help to regrow bone

Researchers at NYU have developed 3D-printed ceramic implants that dissolves slowly, allowing bone to grow in their place. The implants can be tailored to mimic the shape of the missing bone, and are chemically-coated to stimulate bone growth. The research team hopes that the technology will be useful for patients with non-healing bone defects.

Modeled after the bone pieces they are meant to help replace, the implants were assembled onsite using 3D robotic printing, a technology that uses a fine-point print head to push out a gel-like ink material. The material is printed onto a platform, and the printer repeats the process until 2D layers stack up into a 3D object, which is then superheated into its final ceramic form. Available for more than a decade, the technology has only of late been applied in medicine to print out replacement ears, skin, and heart valves.

“Our 3D scaffold represents the best implant in development because of its ability to regenerate real bone,” says study senior investigator and biomedical engineer Paulo Coelho, Dr. Leonard I. Linkow Professor at NYU Dentistry and a professor in the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. “Our latest study results move us closer to clinical trials and potential bone implants for children living with skull deformations since birth, as well as for veterans seeking to repair damaged limbs,” adds Coelho.

The scientists say their novel ceramics more closely resemble real bone shape and composition than other experimental bone implants in which plastic elasticizers are added to make the implant flex. Although the ability to flex offers some advantages, the plastic does not have the same healing ability as NYU’s scaffold.

An important feature of the ceramic devices is that they are made of beta tricalcium phosphate, a compound of the same chemicals found in natural bone that makes the implants resorbable. The ceramic implants contain beta tricalcium phosphate, which is similar to components in natural bone, making the implants resorbable over time. They are also coated in dipyridamole, a blood thinning agent that stimulates bone growth and attracts bone stem cells to the implant. “Dipyridamole has proven to be key to the implant’s success,” says study co-investigator Bruce N. Cronstein, the Dr. Paul R. Esserman Professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine, who perfected the drug’s use during device testing. Used for more than a half-century to prevent blood clots and treat stroke, dipyridamole has a long-standing safety record, says Cronstein. “And because the implant is gradually resorbed, the drug is released a little at a time and locally into the bone, not into the whole body, thereby minimizing risks of abnormal bone growth, bleeding, or other side effects.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

3D printing biomedical parts with supersonic speed

3D printing biomedical parts with supersonic speed

Researchers have developed a 3D printing technique that creates cellular metallic materials by smashing together powder particles at supersonic speed.

Aerogel: the micro structural material of the future

Aerogel: the micro structural material of the future

In a research-first, scientists from Empa were able to 3D print stable well-shaped microstructures made from silica aerogels for use in biotechnology and precision engineering.

Bioprinting tiny, functional organs

Bioprinting tiny, functional organs

Researchers have developed an approach to print tiny tissues that look and function almost like their full-sized counterpart.

A 3D printed device to excite nerves

A 3D printed device to excite nerves

A tiny, thin-film electrode with a 3D-printed housing has been implanted in the peripheral nervous system of songbirds, where it successfully recorded electrical impulses that drive vocalizations.

3D printing heart cells from stem cells

3D printing heart cells from stem cells

Scientists have shown that 3D printing can be used to control stem cell differentiation into embryoid bodies that replicate heart cells.

3D printed artery monitors blockages from the inside

3D printed artery monitors blockages from the inside

Engineers are developing a 3D printed artificial blood vessel that allows doctors and patients to keep tabs on its health remotely.

Bioprinting tissues directly within the body

Bioprinting tissues directly within the body

Researchers take a step closer to 3D printing living tissues in patients as they develop a specially-formulated bio-ink designed for printing directly in the body.

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

3D printed implants seed multiple layers of tissue

Researchers are 3D printing "groovy" tissue-engineering scaffolds with living cells to help heal injuries.

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Bioprinting complex living tissue in seconds

Researchers have developed an extremely fast optical method for sculpting complex shapes in stem-cell-laden hydrogels and then vascularizing the resulting tissue.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter