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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Cartilage on a Computer Chip – What Shape and Size Do You Want?

Further progress towards artificial cartilage provides good news for aging athletes with torn-up knees, and persons with some forms of arthritis. It’s far from production and FDA approval, but researchers continue to press forward with creating artificial cartilage using computer chips and 3d printing. An April 27, 2014 ScienceDaily article describes the following process for generating new cartilage:

“Creating artificial cartilage requires three main elements: stem cells, biological factors to make the cells grow into cartilage, and a scaffold to give the tissue its shape. Tuan’s 3-D printing approach achieves all three by extruding thin layers of stem cells embedded in a solution that retains its shape and provides growth factors. “We essentially speed up the development process by giving the cells everything they need, while creating a scaffold to give the tissue the exact shape and structure that we want,” said Tuan.

The ultimate vision is to give doctors a tool they can thread through a catheter to print new cartilage right where it’s needed in the patient’s body. Although other researchers have experimented with 3-D printing approaches for cartilage, Tuan’s method represents a significant step forward because it uses visible light, while others have required UV light, which can be harmful to living cells.”

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