April 16, 2014

Two Singaporean institutes have teamed up to develop innovative products and devices that can shape the future of oral health care. A new partnership between National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will focus on fostering research collaborations and grooming more clinician scientists in Singapore.

With this tie-up, NTU will provide – for the first time – training in research to dental surgeons, with the aim of boosting innovative oral health solutions from bench to clinic. The key areas for training in research will be in bone bioengineering and 3D bio-printing, areas which NTU has deep expertise in. The university is expected to open a 3D printing research centre next month.

This partnership will have a funding of S$1 million, which will support collaborative research projects over the next three years. The $500,000 contribution by NDCS is supported by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), while the other $500,000 is from NTU.

"To be a leader in dentistry, our clinicians have to be at the forefront of clinical science and technology." said Dr Goh Bee Tin, head of research at NDCS.

Research Projects

Bone is the second most transplanted tissue in the world and the need for bone grafts and substitutes has been forecast to reach $3.3 billion in revenues by 2013, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.8% from 2006 to 2013 in the United States. This rising need for bone reconstruction is also reflected globally.

One key project under this three-year program is to study how 3D bioresorbable scaffolds can be used to assist bone growth around dental implants and to repair jaw defects resulting from trauma or cancer surgery.

For example, after a tooth is extracted, there will be bone loss around the area, making dental implants difficult. The 3D scaffolds can then be used to grow new bone in the area, instead of having to graft bone from from other parts of the patient's body. After the bone grows, the scaffold will also be absorbed by the body. This method will significantly reduce pain after surgery for the patient, as there will be no need for bone grafts and can potentially reduce the number of surgeries and length of hospital stays.

These bioresorbable scaffolds are highly porous so as to allow bone-forming cells to be entrapped within its structure. They also enable better diffusion of body fluids that provide nutrients to these cells which result in more bone growth when the cells are trapped in them. The study will look into materials, stem cells and bioreactor research and enhancement of the body's own bone regenerative processes.

A 3D bioresorbable scaffold being inserted into a tooth socket after an extraction to promote bone growth.

The second key research collaboration project will study 3D bioprinting of human tissue in the laboratory. These printed tissues can then be used to replace part of the patient's jaw or the gum during reconstructive surgery. The project will develop efficient ways to print such human tissues for oral tissue repair.

"Through this partnership with NTU, we hope that more young clinicians in NDCS will be encouraged to make research a part of their career." said Dr Goh. She said the research in bone bioengineering will be completed in one or two years, but the research in 3D bio-printing could take at least 5 years.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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alvaro wrote at 4/16/2014 4:29:50 PM:

That's an amazing initiative , i believe that the next step will combine all these technologies to print bioteeth . Go Singapore!

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