3D printed ceramic scaffolds help grow ‘real bones’

Experimental studies have shown that bioactive ceramic scaffolds have successfully guided the regeneration of missing bones in animals, and can “decompose harmlessly”.

Experimental studies have shown that bioactive ceramic scaffolds have successfully guided the regeneration of missing bones in animals, and can “decompose harmlessly”.

New bone gradually replaces the scaffold, while the implanted scaffold is naturally absorbed by the test animals’ bodies, NYU School of Medicine dentists and experts said. The research team describes the progress in a series of reports, the latest published in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

Using the bone fragments to be replaced as models, the implant scaffolds are printed using 3D robots. 3D printing technology refers to the use of fine-dot print heads to eject a gel-like ink material and print it onto the platform, and then repeat the process until the 2D layer Stacked into 3D objects, which are finally heated into the final ceramic form. The technology is more than a decade old and has only recently been used in medicine to print replacement ears, skin and heart valves.

The scientists say the new ceramic scaffolds are closer to true bone shape and composition than other bendable plastic scaffolds, and while the bendability of plastic scaffolds is an advantage, it does not have the ability to heal.

An important feature of ceramic devices is that they are made of beta tricalcium phosphate, a compound naturally found in bone with the same composition as beta tricalcium phosphate, which guarantees the absorbability of the scaffold.

One of the secrets of the NYU stent’s rapid bone growth is dipyridamole coating, a blood thinner that experiments have shown can increase bone growth by more than 50 percent. In addition to this, dipyridamole also aggregates bone stem cells and stimulates the formation of blood vessels and bone marrow in new bone. The bone grown on the scaffold was as flexible as natural bone, the researchers said.

In the latest experiment, the researchers experimented with ceramic scaffolds to repair surgically fabricated holes in mouse skulls and bone fragments up to 1.2 centimeters long in rabbit limbs and jaws.

The scientists found that, six months after stent implantation, an average of 77 percent of each stent was absorbed by the mammalian body. They also found that after the new bone grew into the scaffold’s lattice-like structure, the scaffold dissolved. CT scans showed that there were few traces of beta tricalcium phosphate, the original 3D printing material from which the scaffolds were made, at the implantation site.

Subsequent weight-bearing tests showed that the new bone was as strong as the original, undamaged bone. The researchers say their next study will test scaffolds in large animals, which are patent pending. Getting into clinical trials is still several years away, they said.

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