Bones seem to be the latest part of the human anatomy on the radar of 3D Printing technology, thanks to the efforts of researchers from the Northwestern University.
Their work in this field has resulted in the creation of a new type of material that can mimic the properties of real bones, while still being a 100% lab grown.
This new, and still unnamed material consists of 90% hydroxyapatite and 10% biodegradable polymer either polycaprolactone or poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA).
What all this scientific jargon translates to, are bones that are both flexible and strong like real bones, while still being artificial enough to remove any risks of rejection from the host.
In fact, the researchers have already tested the usability of these structures through an experiment which involved seeding the printed material with human stem cells and implanting it in animal models.
The result of the experiment was a highly specialized structure, which was highly porous at all scales, including nano, micro, and macro.
This feature is expected to prove vital for future applications in Custom Medical 3D Printing, as it is designed to allow living cells to settle in and link together to build larger structures throughout the material.
In this way, the bones themselves become mini organs, performing various tasks that you wouldn’t generally associate with this part of the anatomy.
In fact, the researchers are so impressed by the versatility of the material that they are also looking for ways to integrate medicine directly into the bones for advanced healing.
Whether these ambitions will come to fruition is still not clear, as the research is still a long ways from being done, but the potential benefits themselves are great enough to get us excited.