The treatment of bone tumors or severe bone injuries often poses major problems for medicine. Scientists at the University of Rostock are working on using 3D printing technology to treat large bone defects.
3D printing has almost become an everyday technology in recent years. But what is happening with this technology at the University of Rostock could revolutionize the treatment of large bone defects in a few years' time. Under the leadership of Professor Hermann Seitz, the scientists are developing new types of implants that contain various bioactive properties and thus come close to the biological properties of bone.
In their current research into the production of bone substitutes, the scientists in Rostock are focusing on the physiology of bone. It is known, for example, that small voltage potentials form in the bone with every mechanical load. "This piezoelectric effect ensures that cells are stimulated to grow," says Christian Polley, a doctoral student in the Collaborative Research Center at the Chair of Microfluidics. "Piezoelectricity is an important key factor in constant bone remodeling in the organism." It has also been known for some time that voltage potentials can also be generated under mechanical pressure using barium titanate, a piezoelectric ceramic.
The barium titanate is combined with bioactive glass in the promising research approach. This material is known to release ions on contact with body fluids and thus develop its bioactivity. In collaboration with Professor Aldo Boccaccini from the Institute of Biomaterials at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, the material will be mixed with barium titanate and then placed in the 3D printer.
"We are already successfully testing with simulation chambers in which the pressure in an organism can be realistically imitated," emphasizes Seitz. "We want to have an implant that reacts piezoelectrically to mechanical stimuli and is bioactive at the same time." The aim is for bone cells to migrate from the adjacent tissue into the porous implant. Once colonization and the formation of vessels have taken place, the implant remains in the body.