A team of researchers at the University of Sydney, led by professor Hala Zreiqat, has been working on a material to replace human bone for the last three years. Now they have come up with a synthetic, 3D printed material that will probably revolutionise they way of how human bones can be replaced.
The characteristics of bone are very difficult to reproduce synthetically. It is porous from the inside but firm on the outside, meaning the skeleton is very light but very strong at the same time and the porous structure allows for blood and cells to pass through. None of the synthetic materials used so far, neither metal implants are capable of replacing large sections of bone.
In collaboration with Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital, the team of Australian scientists have developed a method to 3D print material that replicates the exact same skeletal structure of patients. Professor Zreiqat explained, that by studying the skeletons properties, especially collagen and calcium, they were able to create a ceramic material that mimics the functional as well as the structural aspects of human bone. The new material is strong enough but porous at the same time. Further it will encourage the regeneration of new bone cells, so the 3D printed, bioactive ceramic scaffold will be replaced by natural bone eventually.
Tests have also shown that it will not be rejected by the human body and professor Zreiqat hopes to see it in clinical use within the next 10 years.