Featured image of 3D Printed Scaffolds May Help Cancer Patients Regrow Breast Tissue After Mastectomy
Medical Breakthrough

3D Printed Scaffolds May Help Cancer Patients Regrow Breast Tissue After Mastectomy

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Nov 26, 2018

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology are working on regrowing breast tissue after a patient has undergone a mastectomy. To achieve this, they are implanting a 3D printed biodegradable polymer scaffold.

A team of researchers from Queensland University of Technology believes they’re nearing a medical breakthrough. Their work will hopefully enable cancer patients who have undergone a mastectomy to regrow their own breast tissue.

The process works by 3D printing a scaffold which acts as a “framework” for breast tissue to grow on. The team has been working on this procedure for the past six years and is led by professor Dietmar Hutmacher.

Finally, after years of testing on animals — each time with a success rate of 100% –, the procedure is ready for human trials. Hutmacher explains how this process has taken its toll by saying: “I thought, we can do it, but at the same time I knew it was very, very challenging.”

If the human trials prove to be successful, this life-changing procedure could be available to women in as little as four years. Watch the 3D printing of an earlier prototype in the video below:

How a 3D Printed Scaffold Helps Regrow Breast Tissue

Current methods of reconstructing a patient’s breasts after a mastectomy include synthetic breast implantation, free flap surgery or autologous fat tissue transfer.

However, the researchers’ method is different to all of these as the 3D printed patient specific scaffold will be regenerating tissue, not transferring it. Such a scaffold is possible thanks to pre-operative 3D scanning, computer-aided design and 3D printing.

The scaffolds are 3D printed using a biodegradable polymer. After printing, they are then implanted into a patient’s chest and filled with their own cells and a growth enhancer.

Hutmacher explains that the 3D printed scaffold will keep its shape throughout the growing process and fat will form. Finally, the scaffold will disappear and the patient will be left with their own tissue.

This process is much less invasive than tissue replacement surgeries. Furthermore, the researchers hope that it will result in a more natural feel and shape to a patient’s reconstructed breasts.

If this process proves successful in human trials, the researchers will also be working on utilizing their scaffold technology to assist in nipple reconstruction too.

Source: Nine News

License: The text of "3D Printed Scaffolds May Help Cancer Patients Regrow Breast Tissue After Mastectomy" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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