Researchers at the University of Twente have developed a biodegradable resin that can be used to create precise replicas of forms within the body around which new tissues can be grown:
The resin can be given different properties depending on where in the body it is to be used. Cells can be sown and cultured on these models, so that the tissues grown are, in fact, produced by the body itself. The new resin has been developed by Ferry Melchels and Prof. Dirk Grijpma of the UT’s Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials research group. An article on this breakthrough will be appearing in the authoritative specialist journal, Biomaterials
The method used to recreate the specific forms is called stereolithography, the improvement in this system is that the resins have hitherto not been biodegradable. This means:
If, for example, a child has a heart valve disorder, a 3D digital image of the heart valve can be created using a CT scanner. The model in the stereolithograph can be copied exactly with the new resin. If the structure is made porous, the child’s own cells can be placed on it. This porosity also gives nutrients access to the cells. Ultimately, after the carrier structure has broken down, only the natural tissue remains.
Which is a rather wonderful development.