Plug and Play Bone Repair: Printing of Bioceramic Implants

Mar 02, 2007

A modified ink-jet printer can be used to directly print layer upon layer of artificial bone for quick-fix grafts used in reconstructive surgery.

Bone takes a long time to grow and repair, so treating serious damage or carrying out reconstructive procedures can be a slow and painstaking process. Writing in issue 6 of Advanced Materials, Jake Barralet of the Faculty of Dentistry, at McGill University, (Montréal, Québec) and Uwe Gbureck, Department for Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry, University of Würzburg, (Bavaria) and their team describe a method for "printing" artificial bone from the same chemical components as living bone and including biomolecules that trigger blood vessel growth to bring the bone to life after it is implanted in the body.

The process could be much more effective and less risky than removing sections of bone from elsewhere in the body for grafting on to an injured site.

The McGill - Würzburg team has demonstrated how an artificial bone can be constructed using the minerals brushite and hydroxyapatite instead of conventional "ink" in their printer. By printing one layer on top of another they can build up a highly porous 3D bioceramic material resembling bone at room temperature.

The team also adds natural chemicals to stimulate blood vessel growth - vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or copper sulphate. This allows them to incorporate into their model bone implants the necessary materials for stimulating blood vessel growth and allowing the artificial bone grafts to "grow" into the site being repaired.

Regenerative medicine is a growing field. Researchers are developing the various techniques that will allow them to construct tissues, including bone, muscle, and even whole organs, outside the human body for subsequent implantation. The biochemistry of tissue repair and integration of such engineered tissues does, however, complicate what would otherwise be a straightforward process of simply grafting the newly grown tissue on to the damage site.

Tissue growth, explain the researchers, is guided by a whole range of cellular signaling molecules that ebb and flow over time, switching on and off yet more molecules that trigger growth, and crucially, growth of blood vessels into a tissue.

By incorporating the blood vessel growth factors into their artificial bone implants, Barralet and colleagues hope that their approach will allow acceleration of integration of such implants into a graft site. "This low-temperature direct approach offers several practical advantages and may find application in bone grafting," the researchers say.

The team has so far tested blood vessel growth into the implant materials made with and without VEGF. They found that blood vessels can grow only one or two millimetres into the pores of VEGF-free artificial bone. In contrast, the artificial bone made with added VEGF promotes blood vessels growth throughout its network of pores. Such a demonstration bodes well for the further development of bespoke printable bone grafts.

Citation: Jake Barralet, Direct Printing of Bioceramic Implants with Spatially Localized Angiogenic Factors, Advanced Materials 2007, 19, No. 6, doi: 10.1002/adma.200601370

Source: Wiley

Explore further: A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

11 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

11 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

11 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

11 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Recommended for you

A refined approach to proteins at low resolution

Sep 19, 2014

Membrane proteins and large protein complexes are notoriously difficult to study with X-ray crystallography, not least because they are often very difficult, if not impossible, to crystallize, but also because ...

Base-pairing protects DNA from UV damage

Sep 19, 2014

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers have discovered a further function of the base-pairing that holds the two strands of the DNA double helix together: it plays a crucial role in protecting ...

Smartgels are thicker than water

Sep 19, 2014

Transforming substances from liquids into gels plays an important role across many industries, including cosmetics, medicine, and energy. But the transformation process, called gelation, where manufacturers ...

Separation of para and ortho water

Sep 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0