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FIU grows bones in lab thanks to 3D printed bioreactor

The sophisticated device allows cells to carry out their bone-building duties outside the human body

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According to Florida International University (FIU), Anamika Prasad, a biomedical engineer at Florida International University (FIU), along with her team of students, has developed a groundbreaking 3D printable device known as a bioreactor. This innovation is poised to transform bone and cartilage research.

The bioreactor, a sophisticated device that allows cells to carry out their bone-building duties outside the human body, has been a focal point of refinement by Prasad and her team. Notably, master’s student Paula Gustin has played a crucial role in the latest advancements. The device now features cylinder-shaped hollows that replicate the unique environment necessary for bone tissue growth, thereby supporting the long-term survivability of samples. Remarkably, the recently published research indicates that samples can survive within this bioreactor for up to 28 days.

FIU grows bones in lab - outside of the human body - thanks to a sophisticated 3D printed bioreactor device.
The cells are shown as green dots. Source: FIU News.

This extended survivability is a game-changer for scientists – allowing for the study of cellular changes over extended periods, which is essential for the discovery of new drugs and therapeutic treatments. Furthermore, this device holds significant potential for advancing bone engineering research – including the reconstruction of large bone segments lost to cancer, infections, or injuries, as well as cartilage research and the cultivation of new cartilage tissue.

Prasad’s vision for this bioreactor extends beyond its current capabilities. She plans to incorporate the device into other research projects, including a collaborative 3D bone reconstruction initiative with Dr. Juan Prettel, Chief of Musculoskeletal Oncology Surgery at Baptist Health. This project, supported by the Casey DeSantis Florida Cancer Innovation Fund through the Florida Department of Health, aims to design personalized 3D implants for children suffering from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

This innovative bioreactor developed at FIU not only exemplifies the cutting-edge work being conducted in the field of biomedical engineering but also highlights the potential for significant advancements in medical treatments and patient care.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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