Bone regeneration, sci-fi style.

Osteocytes are the basic unit of the skeleton system. They have a great capacity for regeneration. Can we accelerate this process artificially? Scientists are close to finding a way.

Osteocytes are the basic unit of the skeleton system. They have a great capacity for regeneration. Can we accelerate this process artificially? Scientists are close to finding a way.

Today we’ve begun Section 45.2: The Skeletal System. Bone is connective tissue that has a great capacity for self-regenaration. 3D printing is all the rage in the contemporary and technological cutting edge. Thus, it was just a matter of time before this budding technology was applied to anatomical purposes:

It’s 2020 and you have severe gum disease. It’s bad enough to require surgery to replace lost bone. So your doctor pulls up a computer program, makes a few calculations, and prints out a fresh piece of bone (technically a bone-like powder) on a 3-D inkjet printer. The printed bone, which is used as a scaffolding to allow fresh cells to grow, is implanted in your mouth. Eventually, it harmlessly dissolves as new bone tissue emerges from your cells.

The following video gives us a little bit more information about what this process is all about:

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44 thoughts on “Bone regeneration, sci-fi style.

    • Biotechnology will play a very important role in the next few decaeds, especially in biomedical sciences. Great contribution, Manuel. Science Daily is a great source for science articles.

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  1. I’m queries if are bones are capable of some regeneration, would it be possible that in some future time are bones can regenerate after great injury as in a shot in the spinal cord?

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  2. Its amazing how technology keeps progressing and how we benefit from it! It will sure be way more easier for a doctor fixing someones gum,etc just by replacing it with a 3d printed one !

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  3. This technological advance can really mean a lot for thehuman body… Imagine in twenty or thirty years what a computer will be able to do for our bodies and health ..

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    • I feel the same way, Sandra. I encourage you to research the concept «technological singularity». This short Wikipedia excerpt can get you started:

      “The first use of the term “singularity” in this context was by mathematician John von Neumann. Neumann in the mid-1950s spoke of “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue”. The term was popularized by science fiction writer Vernor Vinge, who argues that artificial intelligence, human biological enhancement, or brain-computer interfaces could be possible causes of the singularity[2] . Futurist Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the Brain.”

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  4. I am absolutely amazed of how much mankind has progressed in technology. To be able to help bone regeneration is something I never imagined, and living through this historical event is very exiting!

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    • It is very exciting indeed to live in these times. Although I’m always cautiously optimistic, biological sciences are displaying great many breakthroughs; this has to do a lot with communications technology and interdisciplinary approaches.

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  5. I more interested in how the 3D printers are going to affect society as a whole and not just getting tunnel visioned on the bone regeneration part of it. For example the financial view of it like making a computer part one could instead of buying from a company have a 3D printer and print the part you want yourself and an even bigger aspect is one I saw in a documentary about 3D printing guns and how that can affect the laws around gun controls.

    3D Printed Guns (Documentary) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DconsfGsXyA

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    • Industry and how people produce and buy goods will definitively be affected. For the last 250 years, most industries were dependent on manufacture—such as the «factory-fueled model» that is still part of the global economic dynamic. But if 3D printing is as successful as it promises to be, the middle man—the factory—will be ‘cut’. The economic model will change, and this will bring a new set of unprecedented changes in global society.

      Take the example of a toy maker. The conventional way of toy making, as with most other industries, was to create a design, successfully sell it, and then produce it—via an outsourced factory—possibly in a country with cheap labor, say China.

      3D printing cuts the middle man, the factory. The toy designer can be the master of its production. The same thing goes with the very poignant example you put on your comment: the 3D printed rifle.

      Excellent contribution, Jay.

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  6. Wow!!! i am very impressed with this machine because its crazy to know the fact that people can find ways to cure people who have fractured their bone twice as fast!!

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    • Bone regeneration promises great breakthroughs in medical sciences. Osteocytes—the basic unit of bones; cells that aid bone regeneration—need all the help they can get; and these 3D printed materials are a great first step.

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  7. This is an incredible advancement! Bone regeneration might soon be painless and quick. The only thing that might be missing to make this regeneration even faster is a way to speed up the process of bone cell replication so that they may cover the scaffold and form the new bone. Is that what the researcher meant by “bone growth factors”?

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  8. 3d printing is an important innovation in biotechnology. With this type of innovation we could print bones and speed up the process of recuperation if you have a bone fracture for example. Instead of being 3 months or so in recuperation, you could just be a week or so by replacing the damaged bone. Scientists now have to work on making bones that the body will not reject and keep the untegrity and function of the bone.

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    • It is important to clarify that Biotechnology is a field of Biology that deals with genetics and DNA manipulation. 3D printing is such a new field, that we still don’t have it allocated as a science.

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  9. This is a very useful innovation because it can help many people for example athletes that suffer from many fractures and this type of innovations help to know more about bone damages and fractures.

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  10. My grandmother told me once that in her time man has imagined to make long distance communication in a portable device. A few years later the cellphone was invented. She then told me that whatever mankind has imagined, mankind will create. This is an example of creation.

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      • Wow that is so cool, i hope that in the future people with disabilities can all be cured. With how technology is going, the impossible is becoming possible.

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  11. this is really awesome because since technology is this advanced now if someone needs an organ or something maybe he can get it replaced with the other one he needs.

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  12. this is good for the athletes that they can know about their fractures and bone inguries. and it makes the doctors work easier

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  13. this is a great invention because everyone in some point of their life has broken a bone and the hardest part of everything is being with the different things doctors put you, sometimes it restrict you from doing different things and this would help people to earn all this problems.

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  14. I see this is a great innovation done by scientists as well as the synthetic tissue, but I have a question could this help a person having metastasized cancer, cure the disintegration of his bones? Or a person who had a car accident and can not walk anymore, can this invention make that person regenerate their bone structure of let’s say the spinal cord and make that person walk again?

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    • Nowadays, I don’t believe so. These are very early stages of breakthroughs that will give way to longer life expectancy—less cancer—to your grandchildren, or possibly their grandchildren.

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  15. I might be going a little deep in imagination but this makes me picture the future like if we were some type of object, just imagine us going in a store searching for stuff to fix or upgrade our body.

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    • This is an awesome link, Janeddie.

      This is nothing less than bio-arquitecture:

      «Through biomimicry, researchers have developed a novel method of repairing bone structure using coral and marine sponges as scaffolds, or frames for bone tissue to regenerate onto.These materials prove ideal for this type of operation because they are easily integrated into existing bone structure and greatly resemble bones in terms of porosity and composition (all are similarly constructed with calcium carbonate).»

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  16. It is an advance on technology and it is a very good machine because since it will regenerate your bones faster then you can recuperate faster.

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  17. This is really cool how technology is advancing at the point that in a few years maybe we could replace many parts of our bodies with new ones as if we were robots jaja

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    • The correct way of referring to a human being with artificial parts is ‘cyborg.’ A ‘robot’ is 100% machine; and an ‘android’ is a robot that mimics a human being. I encourage you to do a Google search and look for real life examples of each case.

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  18. That would be a great machine to use in the futer because it can regenerate bones faster and it would help many people and mostrly older people that their bones dodn’t regenerate the same way as before

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  19. This is definitely an exciting development in the medical community. I can’t wait to see the applications this might have within what could be just a few years, how accessible it may become to people, and how it’ll lead to other scientific breakthroughs. We’re living this right now and it’s definitely thrilling to see and look forward to what this could lead to. Imagine being able to 3D print tissues. Imagine for a burn victim, instead of having to do skin grafts, a 3D printer printing the skin tissue that person would need. However, it could have its pros and its cons. Unfortunately, a lot of people might even become opposed to 3D printings of this type. To blow it out of proportion, if bones can be 3D printed then maybe they’ll eventually 3D print a whole human, which is a controversial topic.
    Here’s a link to a list of the possibilities 3D printing has to offer http://3d.about.com/od/3d-Electronics/tp/Long-term-Promises-Of-3d-Printing.htm

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  20. There’s no doubt that technology is making outstanding advances. This benefits patients and physicians since it will give them the opportunity to customize their own medical products and equipment. Also it will be more financially effective seeing that 3D printing just simply print valuable things more cheaply, as well it’ll reduce the cost of manufacture.

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