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HomeMedical Information Innovative MedicineGet Ready for the Bionic Age: 5 Medical Advancements Made Possible Thanks To 3D Printing

Get Ready for the Bionic Age: 5 Medical Advancements Made Possible Thanks To 3D Printing

By: Medix Team
Get Ready for the Bionic Age:
5 Medical Advancements Made Possible Thanks To 3D Printing

From printing custom made body parts to simulating cancerous tumours for research, 3D printing technology is already in the heart of tremendous medical breakthroughs. And it’s only the beginning

1. With 3D printing, surgical procedures begin long before entering the operating theater. By printing exact models of the organs due to undergo a medical procedure, surgeons can perform a dry run of the surgery. This allows the surgeons to perform the actual procedure after having gained experience and knowledge specific to each patient’s condition, thus, reducing risk and increasing the odds for a successful procedure.


In some cases, the dry run might make actual surgery redundant. For instance, if a tumor is found to be too close to a vital organ, therefore unresectable. In such cases, surgery can be avoided altogether, and alternative therapies may be considered.



2. Another exciting advancement made possible with 3D printing is smart pills, which may revolutionise drug consumption. Such a pill, currently in development, will contain several chambers, each containing a different drug. The difference between this new development to the pills we know today is that 3D printing technology allows a smart pill to set different speed and timing of release for every drug.


This would allow, for example, to adjust the release of a drug targeting the small intestine for three hours – the time period it takes for a pill to travel to that organ. In addition, the speed of release can be changed as needed. This way, for instance, pain killers could be released quickly, but release of hormones would be slower, to guarantee their gradual adsorption.


These smart, multi-chamber pills will allow patients to consume different drugs simultaneously, lowering the chances of missing a dose (improving compliance).


3. Thanks to advanced 3D printing, bones and other body parts could be printed, customised to fit patients’ unique needs and characteristics. This perfectly addresses each patient’s personal requirements, whether for joints replacement or reconstructing damaged bones and body parts.


This process begins by (CT) scanning the affected area and capturing bone structure. Then, a mold is created by a 3D printer, based on the exact size and features unique to the patient. A cast is then filled with the appropriate material to replace the missing joint or bone structure completely.


4. In order to understand how malignant disease spreads, researchers require an accurate replica of the human body. 3D printing can produce complex structures that imitate human organs. Provided with oxygen and glucose, bacteria and tumours can thrive in these 3D models and spread between their “tissues”, exactly as they would in an actual human body, but in controlled conditions.


This allows scientists to track the spread of disease in laboratory conditions, without risking human lives. The organ models improve modern medicine’s ability to adequately treat different stages of disease, and develop more efficient drugs. Moreover, the models allow researchers to recognise the early stages of diseases and supply the means to stop it before it continues to spread.


5. 3D printers don’t just help treat existing medical conditions – they are a key component of the future of medicine, and even human evolution: bionic humans. What was previously considered science fiction, is made possible by 3D printing biological material, combined with electronic components and polymers.


Scientists hope this will allow printing of enhanced organs, better than our natural ones. For example, a biochemistry lab in Princeton, New Jersey, managed to print an ear that contains a built-in cochlea that could “hear” radio frequencies. This means that 3D printing could not only improve medicine but may also improve us, upgrading our bodies with abilities wilder than anything we could imagine today.

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