Researchers at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital and the University of Wollongong are hoping to develop a new biopen through which doctors can literally 'draw' out new bones for patients.
The pen will work on the same principle as 3D printing and will contain stem cells and growth factors using which doctors can repair damaged or diseased bones. As the damaged section of the bone is 'filled in' by the pen, an ultraviolet light fixed to the pen dries out the mixture, allowing multiple layers to be built.
"The biopen allows the surgeon to fill that gap, to sculpt that and personalize the reconstruction to the dimensions of the patient in real time. In the long term, we hope to use the biopen to actually print out material that helps create the bone with cells in it, which is a very novel concept. This provides a new way we can look at reconstructing patients, and how we can reconstruct them in a way that preserves as much of their own tissue as we can and bring them back to normality as closely as we can", lead researcher Professor Peter Choong said, adding that they hope to get it ready for human testing in five years.