New technique could be the break 3D-printed bones have been waiting for

The dream of 3D-printing bones for use in surgery just got a whole lot more realistic thanks to the work of researchers at the Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research Centre (AMBER) at Trinity College, Dublin. They’ve pioneered a new technique, designed to 3D-print large complex cartilage implants from biomaterials and stem cells to aid with bone regrowth.

“Bioprinting vascularized solid organs such as bone directly is not possibly using existing printing technology,” Professor Daniel Kelly of Trinity College’s School of Engineering told Digital Trends. Kelly is one of the key researchers on the project.

bone

To address this challenge, Kelly and his team took inspiration from the way in which real bones develop. “Our bones begin life as a simpler cartilage template, which develops into a more complex tissue as we grow,” he continued. “So we have instead used bioprinting technology to fabricate mechanically reinforced cartilage templates in the shape of an adult bone, and demonstrated that these tissues develop into functional bone organs following implantation into the body.”

It’s pretty astonishing stuff, as you can see from the video above, and it offers an alternative to the idea of directly bioprinting a complex tissue or organ. Instead, the work suggests a more promising strategy is bioprinting the developmental precursor using stem cells. “Here the bio-inks are designed to provide an environment that enables the conversion of this precursor tissue into a more complex organ,” Kelly said.

There’s still work to be done before the technique is used to replace current methods of carrying out bone implants, but it’s certainly a development worth getting excited about.

“We see this as a platform technology for treating a range of diseases and injuries to the musculoskeletal system,” Kelly concluded. “We are currently working on developing this technology to bioprint biological implants that could be used to regenerate diseased synovial joints. Such strategies may eventually be used as an alternative to metal and polymer joint replacement prostheses.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Here are the smart home gifts peple actually want this year

Looking for a smart home gift to buy for someone on your list? It's not too late! Of all the gadgets we research and test, these are our picks for the best last-minute smart home gifts for 2018.
Photography

Forget painting-style transfers, this A.I. creates realistic portraits of fake people

Do these images look computer-generated? Nvidia researchers recently published a paper on a new variation on style transfer artificial intelligence that's able to generate entirely new portraits.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.