Nov 6, 2017 | By Tess

A team of researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a novel design for a 3D printed stent made from a biomedical ceramic material and which has a structure inspired by the lotus root.

The lotus root possesses a particular porous structure that inspired the Chinese researchers

While the lotus might be more recognizable for its blooming flower, its root has an equally interesting appearance, at least to researchers Wu Chentie and Chang Jiang, who drew on the root’s perforated structure as inspiration for a new 3D bioprinted stent.

The stent is designed to be implanted into the human body with the purpose of repairing bone defects. The lotus-inspired porous structure of the bioprinted stent is specifically integrated to promote and enable natural bone growth.

Of equal importance to the implant’s structure is the biomaterial it is made from, which also encourages natural bone regeneration. The material in question is a silicate-based bioceramic called akermanite, which the researchers found was highly biocompatible with bone marrow cells.

As the researchers explain in their study’s abstract: “Compared with traditional 3D materials, these biomimetic materials can significantly improve in vitro cell attachment and proliferation as well as promote in vivo osteogenesis, indicating potential application for cell delivery and bone regeneration.”

And while we’ve seen porous structures used for 3D printed implants before, the research team says its lotus-inspired structure, which integrates channels is more effective for biointegration.

Simple porous structures for scaffolds, they say, limit the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the bone tissue, while the lotus root-like channels encourage vascularization and bone cell growth.

The microchannels which are built into the 3D printed stent were made possible thanks to a modified 3D printing technique which incorporates a special type of extrusion nozzle.

Essentially, the researchers embedded needles into a traditional nozzle so that when it extruded the biomaterial, small channels would be produced. For a stent with four channels, for instance, the nozzle would be embedded with four needles.

Various shapes and structures for the bioceramic 3D printed implants

The researchers also say they have successfully used the modified 3D printing technique to print biomedical parts from metal and polymer materials, though the bioceramic was the most effective.

The 3D printed lotus root-like scaffold structure can also be customized and adjusted in terms of shape, packing pattern, porosity, surface area, and mechanical properties.

“Compared to traditional 3D printing materials, the lotus root-like biomimetic materials significantly improved in vitro BMSCs attachment and proliferation as well as in vivo osteogenesis and angiogenesis, indicating that the lotus root-like biomimetic materials are more suitable for cell delivery and regeneration of large bone defects,” concludes the study.

The research, entitled “3D Printing of Lotus Root-Like Biomimetic Materials for Cell Delivery and Tissue Regeneration,” was recently published in the journal Advanced Science. The 3D printed bioceramic stent was also realized in collaboration with a team from the Ninth People’s Hospital at the Shanghai Jiaotong University.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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