It is being said that better bone materials will arrive in the near future courtesy of 3D printers.
A team of experts has made a 3D printable ink that can create artificial bone replacement material. This material continues to grow and become a solid stuff that can easily take the place of real life bones that have been broken or are obsolete.
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The material shows extra elasticity and can be custom-made to fit the patient who is in need of a bone replacement. Especially, children who need bone transplants will benefit immensely from this novel procedure which is still in the pipeline.
Bone implant surgery is not child’s play though (no pun intended). Not only is it a difficult process but it happens to be pain-inducing and can lead to a series of complications. In case of not only children but adults, bone is harvested from elsewhere in the human body.
This can be a risky task. As for metallic implants, they are not suitable for the long term in case of little kids. In case of adults there is still some leeway.
In the field of pediatrics though the issue is highly complicated. If you implant a replacement bone in a kid, you need to keep rechecking it time after time as the child grows with age.
Thus the extra surgeries are a painful necessity. To change the game, something different was required. Human stem cells offered a clue as to the resolution of this matter.
The study, published online by the journal Science Translational Medicine, dealt with animal models as a preliminary testing ground before this procedure could be applied in humans.
The 3D bone material is an amalgam of hydroxyapatite and a polymer that is biodegradable and shows compatibility. This complex material has been used previously especially in surgical sutures.
The hyperelastic bone material holds great promise for future times. The material is very strong yet it has holes in it. This is its hallmark as an ideal bone replacement material.
The porosity is precisely its strength since the medical experts wanted the blood vessels to intertwine their way into the porous structure in a natural manner.
Yet the material is difficult to mold closer to the heart’s desire. It happens to be too hard and a little brittle at one and the same time. This presents a new set of problems that the medical establishment is seeking a solution to.
The fact that it has to be made to fit in naturally into the context of the muscles and blood vessels means that more work is needed on this front.