Researchers from NYU Langone Health have developed 3D printed bone implants that encourage new bone growth, dissolving as they are replaced. This could make a huge difference to the lives of those suffering from non-healing bone defects.
Bone defects can be caused by infection, trauma or a tumor. Since 1983, treatment has regularly involved bone autografts, or taking a bone from another part of the body.
But, this process isn’t always successful and doesn’t account for deformities in the surrounding tissue or for differences in limb length.
Now, researchers from NYU Langone Health are working on a solution which could be life changing for people with non-healing bone defects including wounded veterans or children with skull deformations.
The research involves 3D printing ceramic implants which are coated in Dipyridamole, a blood thinning chemical which has shown it can stimulate bone growth.
These 3D prints are designed to be patient specific and exactly mimic the shape of the missing bone. This is a feature which is almost impossible to recreate using any other technology.
They are then implanted into the body and then slowly dissolve. In the process, they also encourage bones to grow in their place.
Bruce N. Cronstein, one of the researchers, said: “Dipyridamole has proven to be key to the implant’s success… 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.”
Current techniques to produce the implants frequently incorporates plastic elasticizers to ensure flexibility. These implants have been found to be less effective than the new printed ceramic implants, with the elasticizer thought to be the limiting factor.
Not only do the printed ceramic implants avoid this, the researchers believe the models can more closely resemble the composition of a bone when compared to other implant options currently available.
The ceramic implants contain beta tricalcium phosphate, a component found in bones. It is this part of the implant’s composition that makes it absorbable.
Tests have already been conducted on animals, including rabbits and mice. These tests showed that 77% of the implant is absorbed over six months. Better yet, new bone material also grew in place of the implant.
Paulo Coelho, a researcher involved in the study, said: “Our 3D scaffold represents the best implant in development because of its ability to regenerate real bone… 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.”
You can find out more by reading the paper published by the researchers on the Wiley Online Library.
License: The text of "Researchers Print Bone Implants to Treat Non-Healing Defects" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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