Major news in the world of prosthetics and modern medicine. Scientists over at the Wake Forest School of Medicine have successfully recreated ear, bone, and muscle structures through 3D bioprinting all made out of a combination of plastic-like materials and living cells, The Verge reports. These make for not just a more realistic-looking prosthetic, but also one that will ultimately be more effective.
What happens in this process is, the printer creates implants with biodegradable plastic-like materials which can provide structure for the living cells implanted with them as they grow and eventually replace the degraded material. “The printing process has been fine-tuned to ensure that cells remain alive until surgery.”
Unfortunately the discovery is just in its beginning stages, which means they're not sure how safe the procedure is going to be on human subjects. However, there’s still hope. As The Verge reports:
“If the technology works in humans the way it has in animals, doctors may soon find themselves using bio printers to produce replacement cartilage and bone for people who have been injured, using a patient's own cells.”
Not only that, but there’s a lot of hope in the world of tissue engineering in general. As one researcher quoted in the article states, “You’re going to see a lot of exciting advances over the next year or two that will push this from the realm of science fiction into something that’s close to impacting patients.”
It’s truly fascinating how far we’ve come. I mean, just thinking about 3D printing makes my mind boggle, but now combining 3D printing with living cells and recreating human organs? That’s something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. If only Dr. Frankenstein had this kind of technology. His monster wouldn’t have been much of a monster at all. Probably just a regular dude named Steven or something.