Sep 1, 2016 | By Alec

The development of new 3D bioprinted medical applications largely depends on overcoming a number of practical obstacles. How do you get you get cells to grow inside a 3D printable substance? And how can you ensure that the 3D printed implant won’t cause any complications? Well, a team of Korean researchers from the Korea Polytechnic University has found a fantastic solution for that second problem. Its new biodegradable material can be 3D bioprinted into facial implants and facilitate tissue regeneration after implantation, while the original 3D printed structure slowly dissolves into the human body over the course of several years.

This fantastic solution was just announced by the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning. The research team in question is led by professor Yoon Won-soo, who is working on 3D bioprinting systems that can use biomaterials to manufacture implants and on facilitating tissue regeneration with dissolvable materials. Earlier this year, the same research team developed a biodegradable mesh for facial bone surgeries that has been approved by South Korea’s Ministry of Food & Drug Safety (MFDS).

Unfortunately, tissue regeneration, implant acceptance and implant construction are huge obstacles in the medical world. Right now, patients with damaged facial bones seeking regeneration have to go through the painful process of extracting bones from other parts of their body. These extracted bones are subsequently shaped into facial implants, and inserted into the facial structure – with or without various additive support structures.

3D printing could offer a much more patient-friendly solution, as perfect prostheses can be 3D printed without the need for bone extraction. Using this new biodegradable material makes insertion far easier as well, with average surgical operation times expected to be shortened to two hours (rather than the current eight hours). It’s the first 3D printable medical material developed in South Korea. “Future research and clinical trial development projects focusing on bone reconstruction therapy can greatly benefit from this innovation,” the team leader said.

This fantastic FDA-approved biodegradable material is actually a medical polymer made from polycaprolactone (PCL). The material slowly dissolves inside the human body, completely disappearing over a process of two to three years while facilitating tissue growth. Most importantly, it reduces the risk of long-term implant side effects – something that is currently negatively affecting a lot of patients with permanent implants. Over time, these tend to cause inflammation and require extraction surgery. These PCL implants, on the other hand, do not. The material was pioneered earlier this year by a company founded by professor Yoon Won-soo himself, called T&R Biofab.

This PCL material should form an excellent contribution to the 3D bioprinting system that the Korea Polytechnic University has been developing with the Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) and the Seoul St. Mary's Hospital. Its developers praise this 3D printer for being capable of 3D printing various types of biomaterials through a completely integrated system, making it comparable to a number of US-made devices. The system is also expandable through a cellular 3D printing platform that manufactures different human body tissues and organs by using bioinks packed with living cells. In the long term, the South Korean specialists believe that they can replace a significant portion of procedures relying on organ donation.

Right now, bones are high up on the agenda. By combining this PCL material with the equally 3D printable tricalcium phosphate (TCP), a substance which facilitates bone regeneration, this 3D printing system should be able to construct bone implants. The research team already applied for MFDS approval.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Keyi Song Yong wrote at 9/4/2016 1:16:04 PM:

This is not really new news. This technology was developed over two-years ago by scientistsin the UK. By the looks of things, the process has taken a step backwards

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