Dec.1, 2012

Tissue engineering refers to grow human organs in lab, from muscles to blood vessels to bladders. Ernst Jan Bos, a Dutch medical researcher at VUMC, Amsterdam is using a Ultimaker 3D printer to print 'scaffold' upon which new human body parts may one day be grown. As a specialist in plastic surgery he hopes this technology could be used for facial reconstruction of burn patient.

Cartilage is essential to form the function of ears and nose. If it is damaged, it is difficult to replace it or create the right shape from donor cartilage. It has already been proven that stem cells can form new cartilage with cartilage cells, but to grow it in good shape and right properties is still a major challenge. The culture medium (the so-called scaffold) where the cells grow plays and important role.

Jan Bos and his group are working on a solution. Using a 3D scanner they scan the body part of patient, then send the file to a Ultimaker 3D printer for printing, afterwards they use it as the basis for creating molds for growing the ear. The plastic need to be sturdy and flexible, but also be safe and body degradable as the cartilage grows. Many different kind of scaffolds will be tested to determine which has the best properties. When the researchers find the ideal combination of cells and bioplastics, they can then be tested on patients.

The research will be partially financed by Burns Foundation. Jan Bos is also crowdfunding on Flintwave, a kickstarter for medical research. Your donation will be used for testing, purchasing bioplastics, creating complex scaffolds, or in the future building up new 3D printer with more possibilities.

This video below is in Dutch, for non-Dutch speaking viewers, please watch the next video explaining a similar process in English.


In the vidoe below Dr. Anthony Atala lists the types of tissues that they plan to bioprint at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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