Spanish researchers study the field of biompression and regenerative medicine to replace current prosthetics.
Titanium, steel and tantalum are currently used for prosthetics. But this could change soon, as researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid and the CSIC Institute of Polymer Science and Technology are focused on studies related to the bioprinting.
The first step is to make a 3D printer that is capable of generate three-dimensional pieces of materials with better characteristics than the materials used today (In general, anyone who can be hard enough to bear enough weight, and so smooth as not to give in to friction is used.)
3D printing is a thing of the early 80s. However, just like Artificial Intelligence (which is even in the mid 50s), it is when more applications are being developed and when it is most useful (given the technological level we have today in day).
Bioprinting is precisely the scientific field that is oriented in the direction we mentioned above: it consists of be able to create tissues and organs even with the patient’s own cells. It is not even a new thing. It synthesizes knowledge of biology, biomaterial creation and three-dimensional printing.
Bioprinting made in Spain
Since 2013, the CSIC (Higher Council for Scientific Research), the University of Jan and Granada have patented a system to regenerate seo tissue from stem cells.
As explained by El Diario Jos Becerra, professor of Cellular Biology at the University of Malaga and director of BIONAND (Andalusian Center for Nanomedicine and Biotechnology), On the biological side there is technology and knowledge, based on stem cells and based on material science. That is, there are materials, there are cells and the possibility of cultivating them, now what you have to do is put the two together.
The mission that the CSIC team is carrying out jointly with the UCM is create prostheses that integrate with the body and that end up disappearing. It is already possible to create skin (even in these projects they are in the clinical phase, soon to be a reality to reach hospitals), so now is the time to invest in other tissues, organs and bones and cartilage .
The way forward right now is integrate human tissue together with a type of plastic (specifically polycaprolactone, a biodegradable aliphatic polyester). Then the synthetic component (the plastic) eventually disappears. In the words of the researcher herself, If you are a child, that prosthesis will grow with you because it becomes bone.
But it is no longer just that, but we will also be able to generate custom and fully customized prosthetics to solve today’s sizing problem, which could even end up causing asymmetry problems that will directly affect the healthy part.
BQ, in charge of 3D printers
The scientific team has two printers from BQ. Specifically, it has aHephestos 2 and aWitbox 2. Of course both are perfectly suited for the occasion. And it is that any extruder does not work (the nozzle that heats the material and spins it), because if it were worked at 200 degrees (as usual), the cells would simply die.
Another problem is that these extruders are not sterilized. They must be watertight (that are not in contact with the outside, thus avoiding possible contamination, in addition to ensuring sterility) and run at 37 degrees, which is at the temperature that the human body works. Finally, the special extruder has a needle that deposits the cells onto the plastic material in a controlled way.
Solution to the test of cosmetics and drugs in animals
But bioprinting is not only useful to replace the implants that are used today (beneficial for the obvious part, but also with contraindications, as we have seen), but it is also very useful in other fields. One of them is the eradication of laboratory animal life, because if we are able to print living tissue, the use of animals will not be necessary.
It is very simple: having a tissue that behaves exactly the same as an animal or human, why use the latter? It therefore reduces both costs and animal suffering.