More and more, we’re hearing about scaffolding-like materials that are used to help heal bone injuries. A new one is claimed to be particularly versatile, as it’s inspired by Lego building blocks.
Typically made of biocompatible polymers, so-called bioscaffolding is usually either 3D-printed in one solid piece, or injected in the form of a gel that sets into a solid.
In either case, once it’s in place within a bone injury site, the adjacent bone cells migrate into the scaffolding, essentially “roosting” within its three-dimensional microstructure. Those cells then reproduce, gradually replacing the polymer as it harmlessly biodegrades. Eventually, all that’s left is pure, natural bone.
Led by Assoc. Prof. Luiz Bertassoni, scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University, the University of Oregon, New York University and Thailand’s Mahidol University have taken a different approach. They’ve created tiny hollow 3D-printed polymer blocks (aka micro cages), that can be stacked together like Lego in order to build bioscaffolding implants of the desired shapes and sizes.