3D Printing Provides a Solution to Spinal-Cords Injuries

Researchers from the University of Minnesota recently developed an implant designed to provide relief for patients with long-term spinal-cord injuries.


Image credit: theengineer.co.uk

The implant will consist in a silicone guide seeded with stem cells and is expected to help patients regain some functions such as control of muscles, bowel and bladder.

All this is achievable thanks to 3D bioprinting, an emerging technique in the 3D printing realm that will allow doctors to recreate parts of a human body, including organs.

In the case of patients with spinal cord injuries, the printed “scaffold” would be implanted into the injured area of the spinal cord to serve as a bridge between living nerve cells above and below the area of injury.

Although previous researches in neuronal stem cells exist, this is the first time that researchers are able to directly 3D print neuronal stem cells derived from adult human cells on a 3D-printed guide and have the cells differentiate into active nerve cells in a lab.

“3D printing such delicate cells was very difficult,” said Michael McAlpine, the mechanical engineer leading the team. “The hard part is keeping the cells happy and alive. We tested several different recipes in the printing process. The fact that we were able to keep about 75 percent of the cells alive during the 3D-printing process and then have them turn into healthy neurons is pretty amazing.”


Via theengineer.co.uk

Categories: Biomedical