3D Bone Printer Uses Your Cells

A 3D printer for human bones has been developed by Christian Weinand of the Insel Hospital in Berne, Switzerland. The device lets surgeons replace damaged or diseased bones with an identical duplicate using your own cells.


(Exact replica of bone now possible)

First, you need a good image of the bone in question; use the bone from the opposite limb (ya gotta love that bilateral symmetry) if the one to be replaced is missing or too badly damaged.

Print the image with a 3D inkjet printer, which deposits thin layers of material until a fully three-dimensional object emerges. This process is sometimes called rapid prototyping. Weinand loaded the printer with tricalcium phosphate and a type of polylactic acid - natural structural materials found in the human body. The resulting bone "scaffolds" contained thousands of tiny pores into which bone cells could settle, grow and eventually displace the biodegradable scaffold altogether

Then, make up your special gel using extracted CD117 cells from bone marrow along with selected nutrients; CD117 cells grow into primordial bone cells called osteoblasts. The team syringed onto the printed bone scaffolds.

Finally, implant the scaffold in the back of a mouse and let it grow for fifteen weeks. At the end of the process, a human bone can be extracted.

Frank Herbert dreamed of something like this when he wrote about the Atlotl/Gibiril Regimen in his 1972 book The Godmakers.

Orne began to show small but steady signs of recovery... they placed him on an atlotl/gibiril regimen, forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers and eye, restore his scalp line and erase the other internal-external damage.
(Read more about the Atlotl/Gibiril Regimen)

From New Scientist via Charlie's Diary.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/12/2009)

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