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  • 3D printing has revolutionized our world,

  • providing endless opportunities from printing homes, to modeling organs.

  • And now, scientists are tackling the challenge of incorporating living cells into bone-like structures using a new ceramic ink.

  • This could one day allow surgeons to repair damaged bones by applying ink directly into the injury.

  • Bones are capable of self-healing.

  • But sometimes, the damage is so severe, the body is unable to repair itself.

  • This can happen in cases of severe trauma or an illness, like cancer, where a large area of bone tissue is missing

  • or needs to be removed.

  • Currently, the go-to choice for major bone repair is a graft.

  • But high risks of infection or immune rejection

  • has led bioengineers to explore the creation of artificial bone.

  • Engineers have tested synthetic materials like metals, thermoplastics, and bioceramics,

  • trying to get synthetic bones just right.

  • And for the last decade or so, they've even tried 3D printing them.

  • One reason it's so difficult to print artificial bones is its hybrid nature.

  • In addition to bone's mineralized weight-bearing structure, bone is also alive!

  • It has living tissue that allows it to compress and bend without breaking

  • and this level of complexity can be hard to replicate.

  • Until now, if you needed a 3D printed bone it had to be premade in a lab somewhere,

  • and the process involved using either high-temperature furnaces or toxic materials.

  • Any living cells have to be added after the bone was printed.

  • It's a slow and imperfect process that, depending on the complexity and size of the bone you need,

  • could take several days or even weeks.

  • That's a long time to wait if you need a bone.

  • And even once the artificial bone is implanted, things could still go wrong.

  • It could be slow to heal or even collapse.

  • What's cool about this new 3D printing technique is it eliminates the toxic chemicals and extreme heat

  • by printing at room temperature with a unique new ink...

  • on demand and with live cells ready to grow.

  • It's called Ceramic Omnidirectional Bioprinting In Cell-Suspensions.

  • It uses a ceramic-based ink made of calcium phosphate, the main mineral found in human bones and teeth,

  • to produce bone-like structures that can set in minutes.

  • The ink is extruded into a gelatin support bath that contains living cells.

  • The inksetsthrough this clever little trick.

  • When it comes in contact with water in the gelatin bath,

  • the ceramic ink transforms into crystal nanostructures similar to the building blocks of actual bones.

  • The living cells form colonies around the ink, where they grow into a network of tissues.

  • This closely mimics ossification, the natural process that creates new bone in the body.

  • The team has already printed delicate bone structures up to about half a centimeter cubed,

  • and after 14 days, more than 95% of the cells survived.

  • In a clinical setting, the ink would solidify in bodily fluid

  • and print bone-like structure that already contains the patient's own living cells.

  • With advances in hand-held printing, it may one day be possible to repair immobilized patients on site.

  • Of course, we're in the early days of this whole process and we still need to see if COBICS-printed bones

  • continue their cell growth once they've been placed inside existing bone tissue.

  • This hasn't stopped surgeons and medical tech manufacturers from expressing interest in the technique.

  • The team is currently working on re-designing the support bath to print larger samples.

  • So perhaps in the not so distant future, it will be a little easier to repair bones that won't heal all by themselves.

  • And that's something worth looking forward to.

  • So in the future repairing bones will be a snap.

  • And that's not the only part of you that might be printed in the future.

  • Check out this video on the first full-size 3D print of a human heart.

  • If you have any 3D printing breakthroughs you think we should cover,

  • let us know in the comments below and as always, thanks for watching Seeker.

3D printing has revolutionized our world,

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B1 bone printing ceramic printed print repair

Scientists Want To 3D Print Bones in Your Body

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/26
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