In a new study, orthopaedic specialists at NHS Golden Jubilee, in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, have pioneered the integration of 3D printing into hip and knee joint prostheses using patients’ own biological cells.
The research project is investigating the production of ‘scaffolds’ through 3D bio-printing that are mixed with patient stem cells and elements such as calcium to aid the regeneration of bone defects.
Gareth Turnbull, the primary author and clinical research fellow at NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “The reason we looked into this area is because a lot of patients can develop significant bone loss or destruction due to a number of conditions such as arthritis, cancer, infection or trauma. When patients lose bone it can be a difficult and time-consuming process to regenerate or heal these defects. The idea is that by using 3D printing technology combined with biological components such as patient stem cells, we’ll be able to produce live biological implants that could be placed into patients and heal into place within them, instead of the current alternatives like metal implants, which can fail over time in the body as they wear out or come loose.”
The advantages for patients are significant. Instead of artificial implants to repair bone defects or the use of joint replacements for arthritis, these patients could receive a biological implant containing their own cells. This implant would grow into their body and become part of them. The research is part of Turnbull’s PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde.
Professor Jon Clarke, orthopaedic research lead at NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “Innovation that benefits patients is always high on our agenda and this award highlights this work. Joint replacements, like any mechanical devices, will eventually wear out, often within the life time of the patient. Biological constructs offer the potential for longer term survival, which could avoid the need for further operations.”
Will Shu, a co-author and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Our collaboration with NHS Golden Jubilee represents a significant leap forward in surgical technology. By combining our expertise in 3D bio-printing with their pioneering techniques in orthopaedic surgery, we’re not just enhancing current treatments but revolutionising them. This award is a testament to the global recognition of our partnership within the international research community.”
This recognition underlines the global appreciation of the partnership within the international research community and marks a significant step forward in the development of sustainable and patient-specific treatments in the field of orthopaedics.