he bioprinter enables surgeons to deposit scaffolds—or materials to help...
he bioprinter enables surgeons to deposit scaffolds—or materials to help support cellular and tissue growth—directly into the defect sites within weakened skeletal muscles.
Source: University of Connecticut

Handheld 3D printers help to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Biomedical engineers at the UConn School of Dental Medicine recently developed a handheld 3D bioprinter that could revolutionize the way musculoskeletal surgical procedures are performed.

The bioprinter, developed by Dr. Ali Tamayol, associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine biomedical engineering department, enables surgeons to deposit scaffolds—or materials to help support cellular and tissue growth—directly into the defect sites within weakened skeletal muscles. “The printer is robust and allows proper filling of the cavity with fibrillar scaffolds in which fibers resemble the architecture of the native tissue,” says Tamayol.

The scaffolds from the bioprinter adhere precisely to the surrounding tissues of the injury and mimic the properties of the existing tissue— eliminating the need for any suturing. Current methods for reconstructive surgery have been largely inadequate in treating volumetric muscle loss. As a result, 3D printing technology has emerged as an up and coming solution to help reconstruct muscle.

Dr. Indranil Sinha, a plastic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard joined Tamayol in this research study.  With expertise in treatment of muscle injuries, Sinha says that a “good solution currently does not exist for patients who suffer volumetric muscle loss.  A customizable, printed gel establishes the foundation for a new treatment paradigm can improve the care of our trauma patients.”

Existing 3D bioprinting technology is not without its problems. Implanting the hydrogel-based scaffolds successfully requires a very specific biomaterial to be printed that will adhere to the defect site. While 3D bioprinted scaffolds mimicking skeletal muscles have been created in vitro, they have not been successfully used on an actual subject.

Tamayol’s solution fixes the problem. Tamayol’s bioprinter prints gelatin-based hydrogels – known as “bioink”—that have been proven to be effective in adhering to defect sites of mice with volumetric muscle loss injury. The mice showed a significant increase in muscle hypertrophy following Tamayol’s therapy. “This is a new generation of 3D printers than enables clinicians to directly print the scaffold within the patient’s body,” said Tamayol. “Best of all, this system does not require the presence of sophisticated imaging and printing systems.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Researchers successfully bioprint healthy new tissue

Researchers successfully bioprint healthy new tissue

New muscle has successfully been created in mice using a minimally invasive technique dubbed ‘intravital 3D bioprinting’.

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 printing cells to produce human tissue

3D printing cells to produce human tissue

Engineers have developed a method to 3D print cells to produce human tissue such as ligaments and tendons, a process that will greatly improve a patient's recovery.

Oxygen-releasing bioink for bioprinting

Oxygen-releasing bioink for bioprinting

Researchers have developed an oxygen-releasing bioink that may be useful in 3D printing bioengineered cell constructs.

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 printed lifelike heart valve models

3D printed lifelike heart valve models

Researchers have developed a groundbreaking process for multi-material 3D printing of lifelike models of the heart's aortic valve and the surrounding structures.

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.

Lego-inspired 3D printed soft tissue bricks

Lego-inspired 3D printed soft tissue bricks

Researchers have developed a tiny, 3D-printed technology that can be assembled like Lego blocks and help repair broken bones and soft tissue.

Popular articles