Get a nose cartilage 3D printed in just 16 minutes
Nowadays it is not uncommon for doctors to use 3D printed tissue. But although there are a lot of advertisements about 3D bioprinting saying that the technology will help save more lives and shorten donor lists considerably, totally functional 3D printed organs are not available yet. We are not going to see blood pumping 3D printed hearts in the near future, but getting a better nose is becoming possible.
Professor Marcy Zenobi-Wong together with a group of scientists from ETH Zurich’s Cartilage Engineering and Regeneration laboratory led by Matti Kesti has found out the way of bioprinting a nose cartilage or a joint that grows with time together with the body. Cartilage transplant procedures that are common nowadays involve two-dimensional cell generation that doesn’t change as the patient’s joint begins to function again in the future. In contrast, 3D bioprinted cartilages are likely to grow and become part of the body system.
When doctors have to fix a smashed nose carrying out reconstructive surgery, they will have to create a digital 3D model and, at the same time, biopsy will remove the patient’s cartilage cells – from an ear, knee or pieces of the nose. The cells will be grown with the necessary biopolymers, which will be generated either by the human bodies or extracted from seaweed. They will also create a hydrogel compatible with the suspension used with 3D printers. These biopolymers serve as a shaping mold for the cells till the cartilage cells inside the body decompose them. The researchers say that, as time passes, it will be almost impossible to tell the difference between the original cartilage and the transplant. They hope that in future the technology will help to get rid of the cartilage donor tissue. They will 3D bioprint cartilage pieces basing on the patients individual defects and they will help regain the personalized size and shape.
It is true that the technology is viewed as the way to personalized medicine and body-replicating miracles, but the research and bioprinting are very expensive and painstaking procedures. So in this respect cellular 3D printer cartridges are not widely accessible in hospitals. But 3D bioprinting has a high potential in the future as it is a unique technology that enables surgeons regenerate the perfect shape of organs and tissue of a particular patient. Now there is no better way to reproduce the shape than 3D bioprinting, that’s why the technology is worth studying and analyzing.
Matti Kesti works in a lab that is equipped with a nice bioprinter, which can create a cartilage in approximately 16 minutes! He is ready now to take part in pre-clinical trials. If cellular reproduction becomes a practicable option for human trials, that would mean that 3D bioprinted cartilage implants are more effective than silicone ones.