Groundbreaking 3D Printer Capable of Repairing Bones and Guts Inside the Body


The technique created complex shapes such as letters and spirals through a pig’s heart, belly fat, and kidney.

Senior Editor, Innovation & Tech

3D printing technology has come a long way in the past few years—and one of its most promising applications is in medicine. Not only have we seen it be used to create artificial bones and tendons, but it’s even capable of making skin that can feel (which is a lot less creepy than it sounds).

Now a multi-university team of scientists have taken it a step further and created a 3D printer that goes inside the human body. That’s the idea behind a new study published Thursday in the journal Science into a new method that allows researchers to use ultrasonic waves to “print” structures through layers of biomaterials like skin, muscle, and bone.

Deep-Penetrating Acoustic Volumetric Printing (DAVP) is a novel technique that makes use of a unique substance named ‘sono-ink’ for constructing different structures within the human body.

According to Junjie Yao, a biomedical engineer at Duke University and one of the authors of the study, DAVP operates by directing concentrated ultrasound waves to a liquid medium full of sono-inks. These inks solidify in precise patterns in response to ultrasound as the wave scans through them.

The process depicts the delivery and solidification of sono-inks in the entire atrial appendage volume, which is a minimally invasive left atrial appendage closure.

The majority of widely known 3D printing techniques use light-based methods. The device shapes layers of plastic of the print object and ultraviolet light is shone on it to facilitate its hardening and solidification.

This is effective if you’re developing components such as construction materials or robots. However, it’s not as efficient when it comes to procedures within the human body. Nonetheless, there is a vast potential for internal 3D printers in tasks like mending damaged bones and treating internal wounds.

“For instance, this could be employed to print structures within the body that are compatible with biological tissues, such as scaffolds for tissue regeneration or systems for sustained drug delivery,” Yao elaborated. “This technique could greatly improve treatments for various medical conditions by allowing precise interventions with no need for invasive surgery, thereby reducing patient recovery time and enhancing outcomes.”

A basic 2D honeycomb structure was printed through a liver from a pig, 17-layer thick, on a 2.05-MHz FUS using a PEGDA-based sono-ink.

This procedure involves a small catheter that’s placed into the body to dispense the sono-ink. As the sono-ink gets injected, an external ultrasonic device shapes the material into the desired form required for the bone repair, tissue patching up, or even for dispensing crucial medication.

In tests, the process demonstrated its ability to 3D print intricate forms such as characters and coils through layers of biological material like a pig’s heart, abdominal fat, and kidney. Furthermore, it proved it could successfully administer a chemotherapy treatment directly into a pig’s liver.

“This method provides superior precision and control, enabling the fabrication of intricate structures at depths previously impossible,” remarked Yao.

A two-dimensional vessel network measuring 82 mm by 68 mm by 1 mm was printed on a 3.41-MHz FUS utilizing a PEGDA-based sono-ink.

Yet, the technique has not been applied to any human patients. Additional investigation is required before it can progress to human trials and perhaps be introduced to hospitals and medical establishments worldwide.

DAVP’s team states their intention to improve and streamline their printing technology. They are keen on “exploring new materials for sono-inks to extend the reach and applicability of acoustic volumetric printing,” according to Yao. The team ultimately aims to work with clinical researchers to see how their method can be used in real medical scenarios.

Yao also expressed his excitement saying, “The possible influence of this research really excites us, and we eagerly await its practical applications in the imminent future.”

The sound-ink was used to print a 3D bone model through 15-thick porcine belly tissue using a 2.05-MHz FUS.

Senior Editor, Innovation & Tech

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Original source


“Why did the 3D printer go to therapy? Because it had too many layers of unresolved issues!”

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