3D Printing/4D Printing /Biotechnology/Robotics.

3D-Printed medical devices saving lives with precision

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By creating a pliable 3D model of the young patient’s heart, doctors were able to chart the best treatment course. What they discovered through the model was groundbreaking—traditional open-heart surgery wouldn’t work. Instead, they opted for a minimally invasive thermal ablation, sparing the young patient from a more invasive procedure. This heart model not only guided the surgical team but also helped explain the procedure to the patient and their family.

Dr. Glenn Green, a physician at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, had a vision more than a decade ago. He wanted to solve a medical problem close to his heart—helping children with tracheobronchomalacia, a life-threatening condition that causes airway collapse. Green and biomedical engineer Dr. Scott Hollister teamed up to create a 3D-printed splint from a dissolvable material. This splint could be implanted in the airways of babies with the condition, giving them a chance to grow out of it. Materialise’s 3D printing facility in Ann Arbor played a crucial role in making this lifesaving device. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted special emergency authorization for its use in children who would otherwise face certain death.

Kaiba Gionfriddo, one of the first children to receive this groundbreaking treatment, wouldn’t have survived without it. Today, he’s a thriving 12-year-old who enjoys school, pets, and video games. He’s not alone; approximately 50 other children have received these 3D-printed tracheal-bronchial splints at the University of Michigan. Families from around the country flock to U-M, grateful that their children can finally go home after spending most of their lives in the hospital.

Materialise’s innovative 3D-printed medical devices are changing the landscape of healthcare. From anatomical models that aid in complex surgeries to life-saving implants that give children a chance at a normal life, this technology is rewriting the rules of modern medicine. The precision and customization offered by 3D printing open doors to treatments and solutions that were once unimaginable.

Kristen Jordan Shamus. Detroit Free Press. 3D-printed medical devices made by Materialise in Plymouth Township are saving lives.

3D Printing nerve networks with living neurons.

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Medical research with a revolutionary breakthrough has taken place that promises to reshape the way we understand and explore the human nervous system. Engineers have achieved a milestone that was once thought to be the stuff of science fiction – the creation of 3D nerve networks using “bioinks” infused with living neurons. This innovative technique opens the door to crafting 3D neural circuits that closely emulate the intricate connections found within the human brain. At the heart of this scientific marvel lies the ingenious use of “bioinks.” These bioinks are not ordinary inks but specially formulated materials teeming with living neurons. Researchers have harnessed the power of these bioinks to bridge the gap between gray and white matter, a feat previously deemed extraordinarily challenging.

One of the key highlights of this groundbreaking achievement is the faithful replication of the brain’s gray-and-white matter arrangement. Two distinct bioinks were employed in this process: one infused with living cells and the other without. This approach closely mimics the natural architecture of the human brain, where gray matter (comprising cell bodies and dendrites) and white matter (comprising axons) coexist. The results of this pioneering work are nothing short of astonishing. The 3D neural structures that emerged from this process are a testament to the possibilities of modern engineering. These structures not only replicate the gray-and-white matter arrangement but also exhibit authentic connections. Neurites, the thread-like extensions of nerve cells, intricately link different cortex layers within these 3D neural circuits, mirroring the complexity of the human brain.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this achievement is the newfound life within these 3D-printed nerve networks. These bioprinted networks exhibit spontaneous nerve activity, akin to the firing of neurons in a living brain. They respond to stimuli, a behavior that was once thought to be exclusive to organic neural networks. The implications of this advance are profound. It ushers in a new era of neurological research, offering a deeper understanding of disease mechanisms, drug effects on the nervous system, and the intricacies of neural activity. These 3D-printed nerve networks serve as a powerful tool for unraveling the mysteries of the human brain.

As we stand on the precipice of a new frontier in neuroscience and bioprinting, the work of these engineers at Monash University serves as a beacon of hope. Their success in creating 3D nerve networks that come to life within the laboratory holds the promise of transformative discoveries and breakthroughs that could change the landscape of medicine as we know it.

3D-Printed Nerve Networks Come Alive. Research Article/Open Access. Yue YaoHarold A. ColemanLaurence MeagherJohn S. ForsytheHelena C. Parkington. First published: 27 June 2023. 3D Functional Neuronal Networks in Free-Standing Bioprinted Hydrogel Constructs.

Source: Monash University. In the laboratories of Monash University, engineering researchers have accomplished the seemingly impossible. They have used “bioinks” infused with living nerve cells, or neurons, to 3D-print nerve networks that not only grow but also transmit and respond to nerve signals. This achievement is more than a scientific marvel; it is a testament to human ingenuity and the boundless possibilities of modern medicine.