Chemically coated, ceramic implants successfully guided the regrowth of missing bone in lab animals while “steadily dissolving,” researchers report.
Surgeons and scientists at NYU School of Medicine and NYU College of Dentistry say their implanted scaffolds were naturally absorbed by the test animals’ bodies as new bone gradually replaced the devices.
Modeled after the bone pieces they are meant to help replace, the implants were assembled onsite using 3-D robotic printing, a technology that uses a fine-point print head to push out a gel-like ink material. The material is printed onto a platform, and the printer repeats the process until 2-D layers stack up into a 3-D object, which is then superheated into its final ceramic form. Available for more than a decade, the technology has only of late been applied in medicine to print out replacement ears, skin, and heart valves.
“Our 3-D scaffold represents the best implant in development because of its ability to regenerate real bone,” says study senior investigator and biomedical engineer Paulo Coelho, DDS, Ph.D. “Our latest study results move us closer to clinical trials and potential bone implants for children living with skull deformations since birth, as well as for veterans seeking to repair damaged limbs,” adds Coelho, who is the Dr. Leonard I. Linkow Professor at NYU Dentistry and a professor in the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone Health.