Scientists from Ireland have healed a deep wound in a patient using only a 3D printer.
They achieved this by creating biological ink from laboratory-improved patient blood and printing a structure from it to fit inside of an open wound. Due to the nature of the ink (rich in wound-healing platelets), the patient quickly recovered from the injury. According to the researchers, the technology they used will be able to restore other tissues of the human body in the future. Some claims suggest that it will be possible not only to heal wounds but also to correct other health-related problems. In general, this scientific breakthrough has had a good influence on the development of 3D printing technology in the field of medicine. Let’s take a closer look at the details of this scientific achievement.
The Irish scientists shared their achievement in the scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials. Relatively recently, they were faced with the task of healing a patient with a deep wound. To do this, they first took a blood sample from the patient and in the laboratory created platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from it. Initially, the peripheral blood of a person does not contain that many platelets responsible for the rate of clotting and recovery of damaged tissues. But the researchers were able to increase their number in the laboratory.
Platelet-rich plasma was subsequently mixed with gelatin methacrylate hydrogel (GelMA). Thanks to this, the patient’s blood became much thicker, which made it possible to use it as ink for a 3D printer. Using printing equipment, scientists have created a structure capable of repairing wounds. Unfortunately, we could not find photographs of the original printed design. So we cannot say what size it is exactly.
As expected, the platelets in the developed ink significantly accelerated wound healing. In particular, they launched the process of vascularization, which is the formation of new blood vessels. At the same time, they suppressed fibrosis, that is, they prevented tissue scarring. According to the professor of bioengineering Fergal O’Brien (Fergal O’Brien), in the future, the developed technology will not only heal wounds but also be used to repair other tissues. In his interview, he did not give examples, but most likely, we are talking about the treatment of human internal organs. If so, 3D printing technology will one day be able to save many lives.
To understand how this mind-blowing process works, first, researchers take samples of living cells, place them on the surface of supporting structures, and propagate them. As a rule, the finest plastic threads are used as the basis for printing organs. After the formation of the desired organ, scientists expose the base to ultraviolet light and it is removed. It sounds very high-tech, but this method has several drawbacks.
Typically, 3D printers that are intended for home use are used to print simple knick-knacks. But, as we have already seen, these devices can save many lives in the future. In addition to medicine, 3D printing is even used in construction. Who knows what the future holds for 3D printing?