Sep 5, 2017 | By Benedict

Professor Daniel Kelly, a researcher at Trinity College in Dublin, has received €150,000 ($178,500) in funding to develop a 3D printed implant for treating cartilage damage. The “Anchor” implant could help those who have suffered sports-related injuries.

Prof Daniel Kelly's research is taking place at the AMBER Centre in Dublin, Ireland

Sports are risky. Just ask any professional or amateur athlete who has suffered cartilage damage in the knee joint. Not only are such injuries painful, they can also lead to long-term problems like osteoarthritis and other serious conditions.

And osteoarthritis (OA) is a big problem. For those over the age of 60, around 80 per cent of sufferers experience limited movement, while 25 per cent cannot do their necessary daily activities at all.

What this means is that any product or solution that can alleviate OA is most welcome—for athletes and non-athletes alike. And that’s why Prof Daniel Kelly is attempting to make a 3D printed implant that could help treat the kind of damage that leads to cartilage and bone degeneration, reducing the chances of developing OA altogether.

The “Anchor” implant is made from a 3D printable, biodegradable polymer, and acts as a scaffold to allow new tissue to grow in the right places. Endogenous bone marrow derived from stem cells is used as the raw material for this new tissue.

Prof Daniel Kelly

We first reported on Kelly’s efforts to develop 3D printed implants almost exactly a year ago, when the researcher was talking up the prospects of a device that could aid patients with spinal, jaw, or cranial problems. Now, however, Kelly’s research has just received a big boost.

Kelly has just been awarded $178,500 for his research efforts, in the form of a European Research Council Proof of Concept grant. This will allow the Dublin-based researcher to further develop the Anchor implant, which is purportedly suitable even for younger patients since it does not need to have a finite lifespan like other implants.

And while there are several 3D printable implant options on the medical market today, Kelly thinks his new device offers real advantages over others.

“Our 3D printed polymer posts will anchor the implant into the bone and will be porous to stimulate the migration of stem cells from the bone marrow into the body of the scaffold,” Kelly explains. “While various scaffolds like this have been available for some time, they have had limited success, partly because scaffolds need to be anchored securely due to the high forces experienced within the joint. Our 3D printed posts overcome this problem.”

The 3D printed Anchor implant could benefit athletes in particular

Athletes might be more concerned about goalposts, but it’s Kelly’s 3D printed posts that could prove significant in the long run.

The implant is being developed at Trinity College’s AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) center, which “provides a partnership between leading researchers in materials science and industry.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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