Injuries and disease often necessitate putting something in place of where natural bone is. While there are custom-made artificial orthopedic implants and native bone grafts, researchers from Rice University have now shown a new and better way.
The team printed in 3D a bioreactor mold within which new bone can grow. It is made to be attachable to the rib bones and, once implanted, can support stem cells and the formation of blood vasculature. The mold can be custom-made to the patient’s own needs and after a few month of growth, the bioreactor can be explanted and the bone within transplanted to another part of the body.
This was already tried in sheep and the bones transferred successfully to treat a large injury in the mandible of the animals. The therapy successfully worked in five of the six animals studied and points the way for similar attempts in humans.
Of course this will be of particular interest in craniofacial surgery, ENT, neurosurgery, where small bones are of much needed use.
“A major innovation of this work is leveraging a 3D-printed bioreactor to form bone grown in another part of the body while we prime the defect to accept the newly generated tissue,” said Antionios Mikos, a Bioengineering professor at Rice University that worked on the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Earlier studies established a technique for creating bone grafts with or without their own blood supply from real bone implanted into the chest cavity,” said co-author Mark Wong, a professor, chair and program director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery with the School of Dentistry at UTHealth. “This study demonstrated that we could create viable bone grafts from artificial bone substitute materials.
Study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Biomaterials-aided mandibular reconstruction using in vivo bioreactors…