3D Printed Antibacterial Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration

Published on January 5, 2023 by Claire S.

 Bone surgeries are a complex and painful process, and surgeons take extensive precautions to prevent infection. Bone infections are difficult to treat, often requiring at best antibiotics and at worst lengthy hospital stays and surgeries. Therefore, any product which aims to prevent these infections could play a significant role in healthcare and mortality prevention. Researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid, led by Sandra Sánchez-Salcedo, Ana García, Adela González-Jiméneza, and María Vallet-Reghi,  suggested that 3D printing could play an important role in bone tissue regeneration in the production of antibacterial scaffolding on which bones are grown. 

Scaffolding introduced into the body is classed as a foreign material, which increases the risk of bacterial colonization, particularly in areas with low blood supply. The research team synthesized nanocomposites of mesoporous bioactive glasses- that is, nanoporous material containing pores with diameters between 2 and 50 nm, which were then doped with metallic silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) homogenously embedded in the MBG matrices. Chemical doping refers to the deliberate addition of impurities into a semiconductor in order to change its properties.

Bioactive glass scaffolds (A) sol-gel foam and (B) melt-derived gel-cast foam. (Photo credit: Jones and Hench, 2013)

This study used the EnvisionTEC GmbH 3D Bioplotter™ bioprinter to prepare the 3D scaffolds using rapid prototyping (RP). Once printed, the scaffolds were each added into 12-well Transwell plates – a brand of well plates in which cells can be cultured. According to the study, the scaffolds acted as ‘temporary templates’ which allow complete cell colonization for bone regeneration.The researchers found that the 3D scaffolds had antibacterial properties due to the release of silver ions into the medium. They believe that this antibacterial property caused by the silver could have potential applications in healthcare and bone tissue regeneration as it reduces the risk of infection and bacteria growth. 

Similar experiments in 3D bioprinting have included the Ugandan government’s rocket launch in November 2022 with a bioprinter on board; they aim to perform experiments on tissues in a zero-gravity environment. For more details on the method and results of this bone regeneration experiment , you can find the scientific paper HERE.

Bone regeneration is one application of 3D printing technology

3D printing technology is often applied to medical uses. (Photo credit: Iaremenko Sergii / Shutterstock)

What do you think of this project for bone regeneration? Let us know in a comment below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages if the listing above was useful! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter, with all the latest news in 3D printing delivered straight to your inbox!

*Cover photo credit: Shutterstock/Alex Mit

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