At the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, Dr. Darryl D’Lima is working on a bioprinting technique to print living cartilage into the human body. Cartilage is the tissue which cushions knee joints and if it doesn’t regenerate well a lot of pain is caused. When one is having a knee injury doctors advice the person to deal with the pain until an artificial joint has been made. This is a painful and sometimes ineffective way, and D’Lima therefore searches for other ways.
He’s therefore designed a prototype bioprinter to print out living cartilage. Newswebsite redOrbit reports that the professor used a Hewlett-Packard inkjet printer (!) as the basis for its design and as the website reports the bioprinter “spews out both cartilage progenitor cells and a biocompatible liquid that will congeal in the presence of ultraviolet light. In addition, the device can print bone cells necessary to deposit where cartilage attaches to bone.”
The goal behind the project is to truly fix knee injuries from cartilage damage and injury. Right now, implanting an artificial knee joint is still painful and it does not always offer a permanent solution. However, due to high obesity rates and the growing group of babyboomers, it’s still a growing multibillion-dollar market, which is expected to be worth as much as 11 billion dollars in 2017.
Image credits: Eduardo Contreras.