New BioPen Uses 3D Printing and Live Cells to Draw Bone

BioPen

The 3D printing industry has been developing prolifically for the past 30 years. Thanks to the latest innovations, scientists can print skin grafts, ears, kidneys, blood vessels, and even bones. And one of the more recent additions to this field of science is a handheld ‘biopen’, developed in the labs of the University of Wollongong (UOW).

The Australian researchers have developed a pen that uses 3D printing technology to deliver live cells directly onto the site of damaged bone, accelerating the cells’ regeneration process into fully functioning bone and cartilage. The BioPen claims to give surgeons greater control and precision over where and how the new cells are placed. They say this treatment will be ideal for acute injuries such as those sustained during sports or motor vehicle accidents.

Like most 3D printing methods, the BioPen uses a biopolymer to deliver the cell material, which is also protected by a second layer of gel material. The two layers combine in the pen head to make an ink that is then drawn onto the bone surface to fill-in the injury. The ink is sealed with a low-powered UV light, protecting the deposited cells. Once the cells are drawn in, they grow and multiply into respective nerve, muscle, or bone cells; eventually forming a community, such as tissue.

The magic pen is still in its testing phase and will begin clinical trials soon. You can learn more about the BioPen and its functions here.

 

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Category: Technology