Researchers from the University of Minnesota have developed a 3D printed implant which may be able to restore some function to patients who have suffered long-term spinal cord injuries.
The implant, made of silicone with neuronal stem cells printed directly on top, is then implanted into the injured area on the spinal cord and works as a bridge, relieving pain and restoring some control of certain functions including muscles, bowels and bladder.
Mechanical engineer and lead on the project Michael McAlpine said “This is the first time neuronal stems cells have been derived from adult human cells on a 3D printer. Printing these very delicate cells was difficult as they had to be kept happy and live, and the fact that we have been able to keep about 75% of them alive during the 3D printing process and have them turn into happy neurons is pretty amazing. ”