A new 3D printer pen, called BioPen, has been created to implant tissue into the human body. It is a mobile version of a 3D printing device that draws new stem cells in the body during surgery. The surgeons hold the pen in their hand and can have direct control of the drawing, and can ultimate repair damages on different kinds of patients, different kinds of injuries, filling the damaged area with the cells that come out of the solution from the pen.
It was created in Australia, by a team managed by Professor Gordon Wallace, a Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), and researchers at St. Vicent’s Hospital in Melbourne. Professor Wallace developed the pen, and the researchers at the hospital optimized it.
Professor Peter Choong, Director of Orthopaedics at St. Vincent’s Hospital, says: “The development of this type of technology is only possible with interactions between scientists and clinicians – clinicians to identify the problem and scientists to develop a solution.”
According to Professor Choong, this new treatment can repair bones and cartilage damaged by any injury. Surgeons can directly draw into the body, and the stem cells will multiply and differentiate into nerves, muscles, and bone, inside it.
The way this 3D pen works is that it is loaded with a hydrogel that contains and protects the stem cells inside seaweed extract comprised into a bio-ink. While this ink is being used on the bone surface, the pen uses a UV light to solidify these substances.
The BioPen can reduce the time of surgeries and accelerate bone and cartilage regeneration, and it helps surgeons to be more precise because every cartilage is different.
These procedures show that the cells from this 3D printer pen have a survival rate of 97 percent, becoming a great opportunity to help people that need new bones, nerves and, especially, cartilage.