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Biofabrication research to find better ways to 3D print body parts

Credit: Queensland University of Technology

The collaborative work with industry of a PhD student, from the Queensland University of Technology, in finding better ways to 3D print body parts was recognised with an award worth up to A$ 35,000.

Ms Naomi Paxton is the first winner of the scholarship that acknowledges the potential impact of an outstanding PhD candidate in polymer science or engineering.

As reported, her research brings together polymer science and engineering in an emerging field called biofabrication.

What is the research about?

She uses 3D printing to fabricate biocompatible polymer surgical implants, working closely with a Melbourne-based medical device company.

The goal of her research is to help patients who have lost bone as a result of accidents, birth defects or diseases such as cancer.

Grafting is currently the gold-standard treatment option. This involves taking bone from another site on a patient’s body, or from a donor, and using it as a replacement in the defected area.

It is a great solution since it makes use of the patient’s own tissue. However, tissue availability is limited. Plus, there are challenges, such as an increased risk of infection from two surgical sites.

Plastics and metals are other common bone replacements, but there are also some risks in using them.

Solutions to 3D print bio-resorbable scaffolds that contain the patient’s own cells, through the creation of patient-specific 3D designs from medical scans, are being developed.

This is done so that the implants fit the individual patient perfectly.

These bioactive implants will begin to rapidly regenerate the patient’s own tissue while degrading, which will ultimately heal the bone defect.

Inaugural Scholarship Awardee

The scholarship committee was delighted that the inaugural winner of the scholarship is someone like the PhD student’s calibre.

She excelled in her undergraduate degree and presented a research proposal with the potential to make a high-impact contribution to polymer science and engineering.

Combining polymer science and engineering innovations in biofabrication research has the potential to revolutionise how tissue loss is treated.

It also has the potential to improve the quality of care for patients all around Australia.

There are two highly successful research projects that she was able to complete already.

The first is the melt electrospinning scaffolds for bone regeneration using a promising FDA-approved biomaterial (polycaprolactone).

The second is optimising hydrogel formulations for bioprinting cartilage.

During one of her interactive biofabrication workshops, she showed students how to use smart phones to create a 3D visualisation of model bone defects.

This allowed the students to create their own patient-specific implants and have them printed on in-house 3D printers.

The Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship is administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering and the selection committee is comprised of Academy Fellows who are polymer specialists.

This scholarship will contribute in making biofabrication solutions work easier.

OpenGov Asia earlier reported on Indonesia’s Gadjah Mada University, which developed its own 3D printer.

3 types of 3D printers were developed: the Cartesian, the Delta, and the Scara, differing in mechanical construction and kinematics.

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