Bone implants can now be 3D printed using stem cells

Bone 3D printing

Technology is improving the lives of humans for a while and now a US firm comes up with a technology to help prevent multiple joint replacement surgeries.

Life is the same for all of the living beings and with old age, the need for joint replacement tends to increase with the addition of several diseases. Every year More than 2.9 million people in the world opt for joint replacements. When an organic part of a human body stops working doctors place non-biological materials placed including metals and ceramic being placed in people’s bodies. This is a temporary solution and these artificial body parts eventually disintegrate which forces the patient in need of another or similar surgery. Technology is evolving and now a US-based company, Epibone may have a solution for this.

Stem cells usage is getting recognition as the next big thing and the company Epibone is also using this technology to develop bones. In a statement given to Newsweek, Nina Tandon, co-founder of Epibone said that “What we’re doing that’s really different than others is that we’re actually able to combine 3D printing with living cells”.

She also said that in cases of “Traumatic injury, illness or genetic defects Epibone can create conditions which exceed the body’s natural capacity to repair human bone. Epibone has developed a trademark system to grow new bone from the patient’s own stem cells”.

How do this work?

Epibone workers will first take a CT scan of the patients. They take the CT scan to provide anatomically precise scaffold and 3D culture system. After this CT scan, they used the dimensions in order to design mould or scaffolding using 3D printing technology. This is the step where Epibone excels from others, the Epibone scientist’s extracts a sample of fat tissue from the patient’s body this tissue is a source of stem cells. After extraction, these extracted stem cells are then infused into the scaffold. Both of the scaffold and the stem cell are then placed in a bioreactor at a suitable temperature.

The main purpose of putting both the scaffold and the stem cells in the bioreactor is to imitate the condition of the human body. The bioreactor maintains the right temperature, oxygen, pH and nutrients similar to that of the human body. The stem cells are designed to replace damaged cells in the body, In this case, the stem cells then attach to the scaffold, multiply and start forming into osteoblast which is a cell that secretes the substance of bone. This resulting in remodeling the scaffold into a living bone.

The duration of all of this is three weeks and after this duration, the required piece of tissue is ready for implantation. Epibone tested these stem cells bones on pigs and other animals and they found that epibone and the host tissue grow without any irregularities. The process is so seamless that these bones become indistinguishable from one another.

According to Nina Tandon, Epibone creates living skeletal implants which include bones, cartilage, and osteochondral which is cartilage that exists under the bone. After successful experiments on the animals, The company has now planned to start human trials in the next five years.