Sep 13, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing is quickly becoming an integral part of the implant industry, where it is taking over business with custom-made and unique 3D printed implants. However, even these are not magical solutions. Though they provide a much better fit, they are still followed by months or even years of painful rehabilitation. To make matters worse, material rejection is still a real danger. But now this issue is being tackled by 3D printing, as a team of Mexican researchers from the Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) has developed a new synthetic 3D printable biomaterial that completely mimics bone structures and facilitates bone regeneration.

This BUAP innovation has been pioneered by a group of researchers lead by Efrain Rubio Rosas, from the University Center of Entailment and Technology Transfer. As he explained, this biodegradable material is made from various degradable polymers and hydroxyapatite – a mineral commonly found in the body. “The human bone is composed of organic material such as collagen, proteins and growth factors, and other inorganic materials such as calcium phosphate and hydroxyapatite crystals. These are synthetically obtainable and, when used in orthopedic implants, are not rejected by the body,” he explained.

This makes it an especially attractive option for implants and for the replacement of small portions of bone tissue. “We use hydroxyapatite nanoparticles and a polymer compatible with the human body, which degrades when exposed to physiological fluids. However it supports the structure for a sufficient amount of time to facilitate natural bone growth,” the BUAP researcher added. Specifically, a hydroxyapatite powder is used as a bone filler.

Most importantly, this new biomaterial can be 3D printed in controlled levels of porosity, making it suitable for a wide range of very specific applications. Through a special algorithm, 3D structures and patterns can be designed to provide sufficient support for each and every patient, and these are subsequently 3D printed. A patent request has already been filed for the mathematical model, and the Mexican researchers are already working to 3D print exact pieces of bone in the near future. Right now, they are looking at implants of up to a cubic centimeter in volume.

A lot of work thus still needs to be done, but the material itself could provide a very welcome boost to bone implant development. The BUAP’s Faculty of Medicine is currently also looking to verify the biocompatibility of the material.

The multidisciplinary team behind this innovation further includes Eric Reyes Cervantes, Dr. Marco Antonio Morales and student Irving Fernández Cervantes (both from the School of Chemical Engineering) and Dr. Jose Fernando Rojas Rodriguez and Maura Cardenas Garcia, of the faculties of Physical Mathematical Sciences and Medicine.



Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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