Reconstructing damaged or lost body parts could soon be revolutionised by custom printed cartilage grown in the lab
The body does a fair job of patching up injuries, but we're sadly unable to restore lost cartilage - often leading to distressing disfigurement and health issues after severe injuries. Surgery can correct to a point, but growing the patient's own tissue in a desired shape would be far more preferable. That's exactly what's happening now.
Grow your own organs
Researchers in Swansea in the UK have been perfecting a method of growing cartilage in the lab. They take a small sample from initial cartilage and incubate it, before scanning and establishing a 3-D shape the patient requires. This shape is then 3-D printed with a mixture containing these cells, and combined with certain reagents. After more incubation with necessary nutrients the cells can be encouraged to grow cartilage in the form of the desired structure.
"We're trying to print biological structures using human cells, and provide the right environment and the right timing so it can grow into tissue that we can eventually put into a human. It would be to reconstruct lost body parts such as part of the nose or the ear and ultimately large body parts including bone, muscle and vessels"
The good news
The way 3-D printing is going, it's possible this kind of technology will be available within a few years time. If you suffer an unfortunate accident, within a couple of months you could be fitted with a shiny, new piece of cartilage.
Read more at BBC News