Medical

Hybrid 3D-printing bioinks help repair damaged knee cartilage

Hybrid 3D-printing bioinks hel...
New hybrid bioinks could be used to 3D print replacement cartilage in the knee
New hybrid bioinks could be used to 3D print replacement cartilage in the knee
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New hybrid bioinks could be used to 3D print replacement cartilage in the knee
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New hybrid bioinks could be used to 3D print replacement cartilage in the knee

Human knees are notoriously vulnerable to injury or wearing out with age, often culminating in the need for surgery. Now researchers have created new hybrid bioinks that can be used to 3D print structures to replace damaged cartilage in the knee.

The meniscus is the rubbery cartilage that forms a C-shaped cushion in your knee, preventing the bones of your upper and lower leg from rubbing against each other. This stuff is susceptible to damage from sports injuries, but can also wear out with age – and if it gets particularly bad, sometimes the only thing left to do is surgically remove some of the damaged meniscus.

For the new proof-of-concept study, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) demonstrated a new method for 3D bioprinting that creates both the cartilage and the supporting structures. The team used the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOPS), which has been used in past studies to print complex tissues such as bones, muscles and even ears.

This time, the researchers used several bioinks together to print the entire fibrocartilage tissue layer by layer, in an interleaved crosshatch pattern. The first was a composite gellan gum and fibrinogen ink, which encourages the body’s own cells to repopulate. The second bioink is a silk fibroin methacrylate, which helps keep the structure strong and flexible.

In lab tests using pig cells, the team found that the cells were able to proliferate and remain viable, while the structure itself stayed biomechanically sound. Follow up experiments involved implanting the printed structures into mice, and observations during the 10 weeks after surgery showed that the mice began to regenerate their own fibrocartilage as hoped.

The team says that more studies will need to be conducted to investigate what kinds of responses the body might have to the implant, whether it restores function to the joint, and of course whether the results translate to humans.

The research was published in the journal Chemistry of Materials.

Source: WFIRM

6 comments
Zerozen
Now this is promising, and will be always in demand. Knee replacement surgery is so brutal and invasive, after the procedure the next day patient is forced to walk on extensive implants and out for a month.
But this looks less invasive and back what you doing in no time.
michael_dowling
There was a report on New Atlas some time ago about two drugs approved for other uses that when taken together,encouraged the growth of new cartilage. Never heard any more about it. Reports like this one are encouraging,but I would rather see something that avoided surgery where possible. One on my brothers has osteoarthritis of his hip,which should be helped by 3D printed cartilage as well.
TomWatson
Damn ... to late. I had BiLateral Knee replacement surgery over 10 years ago .... "The Horror of it" ... never experienced that much pain before. ... and it lasted for months ... 1-10? ... a 10. Glad I had both done at once. I can see why when a person only gets one done ... they stop.
WilliamWhite
Too late for me and they've got decades of work to do in order to make this a viable treatment option and not the snake oil being schlepped the last few years with this technology.
Fred's Brother
I deal with a removed meniscus since 1976 in my left knee. The past couple of years it has become really painful daily and believe my only recourse is knee replacement. Articles like this encourage my hope something else may be soon available, but I know better. I would volunteer for the first trials of this procedure.
AlbertSutlick
I have had both knees replaced over the past year, and unlike others I experienced virtually no pain. I was walking again in days, and on my second knee I was driving again the 3 days after surgery. I, however, also need two full ankle replacements, which is a much more involved surgery and a lengthy recovery. I would be extremely interested in whether this type of implant might work in that location.