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Surgeons could use these fake elastic bones to fix injuries

The biomaterial still has to undergo human trials, though.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
September 29, 2016
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A team of American scientists have developed a 3D-printed bone biomaterial that can coax your own skeleton to grow and fix injuries on its own. They haven't tested it on humans just yet, but they were able to use their creation to repair a monkey's skull and to fuse rat spines. The synthetic material called "hyperelastic bone" is primarily made of ceramic and polymer and can be manufactured using an expensive but commercially available 3D printer. It's dubbed hyperelastic, because unlike other bone graft materials, which are typically brittle, it's flexible, strong and not prone to chipping or breaking.

More importantly, it remains porous and absorbent even if it's crammed into a small space. Those properties are significant, because your biological materials, such as your blood vessels, need to be able to infiltrate the materials to regrow real bones. Adam Jakus, one of the the team members from Northwestern University, said their hyperelastic bone is "purely synthetic, very cheap and very easy to make." Since it can also "be packaged, shipped and stored very nicely," he hopes it can be used even in developing nations.

That won't be anytime in the near future, though, since the material has to undergo further testing before any hospital starts using it to mend fractures and other bone injuries. The team is pushing for human trials within five years' time, but it's worth noting that the FDA has yet to approve a 3D-printed regenerative bone material for testing on actual patients.

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