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Researchers developing 3D-printed tissue for facial reconstruction – Digital Trends

by • July 7, 2016 • No Comments

Forget Bjork’s 3D printed mask — additive making may soon be a regular part of facial reconstructive surgery, thanks to facial implants created of printed tissue cartilage.
That’s according to a new project by renewable materials specialist American Process Inc. in association with Swansea University Medical School in the U.K. Researchers on the project are developing durable 3D-printed tissue that is capable of being utilized in a variety of ways as part of facial reconstruction.
Related:Watch synthetic bones being 3D printed in this awe-inspiring demo
“We are printing living tissues, living structures, tailored to the needs of individual patients,” project lead Professor Iain Whitaker has said. “We hope that in the next, patients who have lost all or part of their ear or nose through trauma or cancer may have reconstruction via new tissue that is grown of their own cells via nanocellulose. Biomaterials are a key component of our tissue-printing innovation and nanocellulose is our biomaterial of choice for the reason of its biocompatibility, mechanical and structural properties that can assist cell attachment and growth in three dimensions.”
The “nanocellulose” that Whitaker refers to is a type of bioink, a substance created of living cells that can be printed like regular 3D printing materials. What reportedly makes nanocellulose such a promising bioink is its high water-holding ability, as well as its composition, that takes the form of an easy-flowing gel during printing, but and so hardens into a dense, smooth structure capable of storeing living cells fixed in place. Researchers on the project say that nanocellulose is “ideally suited to nozzle-based 3D bioprinting” as a outcome of these properties.
Unlike a few of the longer-term possibilities of bioprinting — such as the ultimate dream of printing out significant biological organs — projects like this one are amazing for the reason of what they suggest of near-term solutions. Digital Trends has not long ago reported on other bioink projects which include a related venture that promises to 3D print cartilage and bone implants for damaged body parts.
With 3D printing in addition looking to become a routine part of facial reconstruction, it appears that additive making is going to store right on playing a expanding role in surgery over the years to come.

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