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3D Printed Ceramic Implants Help Grow Real Bones
Aug 09, 2018

Researchers from New York university have developed 3D printed ceramic implants that successfully regenerate bones in laboratory animals.


As described in the journal of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, implants are used as bioactive scaffolds. Surgeons and scientists at the New York university school of medicine and the New York university school of dentistry said that as new bones gradually replaced the devices, the stents they implanted were absorbed naturally by the tested animals' bodies. The team hopes the technique will be useful for patients with nonhealing bone defects."

" our 3D scaffold represents the best implant under development because of its ability to regenerate true bone," said Paulo Coelho, Ph.D., a research senior and biomedical engineer, in a statement. " our latest findings bring us closer to clinical trials and potential bone implants, which apply to children born with skull deformities and veterans seeking to repair damaged limbs." 

Compared with other flexible experimental bone implants, the 3D printed ceramic implant is very similar to the shape and composition of real bone, with the addition of plastic elasticity to bend the implant, the team claims. Although the ability to bend provides some advantages, the plastics used do not have the same healing properties as the newly developed scaffolding.

The new ceramic device is made from nitotricalcium phosphate, a compound made up of the same chemicals found in natural bones that make the implant absorbable. One of the keys to rapid bone growth is the dipyridamole coating, a blood thinner that has been shown in other experiments to increase bone formation by more than 50 percent. Dipyridamole also attracts backbone cells and stimulates the formation of trophoblast vessels and bone marrow in new bone. According to the researchers, these soft tissues make the bones that the scaffold grows have the same flexibility as natural bones.

"Dipyridamole has been shown to be the key to the implant's success," said study co-author Dr. Michael l. mott, a professor at New York university school of medicine. Co-researcher Bruce N Cronstein said. "" and because the implant is gradually absorbed, the drug is released bit by bit at a time and locally enters the bone rather than the whole body, minimizing the risk of bone growth abnormalities, bleeding or other side effects." "

So far, researchers have tested implants in the skull of mice and bone defects in the limbs of rabbits. They found that about 77 percent of each stent was absorbed by the animals six months after implantation. They also observed that the new bone grows into the lattice-like structure of the scaffold, which then dissolves. Some CT scans of the implanted site showed almost no trace of sodium silicate tricalcium. Subsequent weight-bearing tests also showed that the strength of the new bone was comparable to that of the original, undamaged bone.

Next, the team plans to test the stent on larger animals. Clinical trials, however, can take years.