Top Tech Day 17: Medical Extrusion

Today’s top tech is a mix of different technologies bound by a common thought- medical extrusion and printing technologies applied to medical purposes. In some cases the extrusion/printing is the point of the advance, and in some cases it’s only the method by which the substance is delivered, but it is the common thread unifying these technologies.

The last few years have seen advances in printing of bioscaffolds, such as the work by Dr. Jordan Miller at UPenn (now head of Rice’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute)–review documents on these advances can be seen here and here. Dr. Miller’s work has advanced this year at Rice, as seen here.

In addition to the vasculature printing, work has been done in other areas as well-bone, cartilage, and improved healing mechanisms, to name a few. Rapid manufacturing processes, advanced materials, and improved delivery mechanisms have brought about a startling number of advances in this category.

3D printing has seen yet another usage in the printing of a trachea for an infant who had his left bronchial tube collapse at six weeks old. This would have been nearly impossible with conventional methods-each airway is unique, and a custom solution had to be scanned, designed, and printed from scratch to fit the infant’s airway. The procedure was successful, and the child survived. This procedure was also a testament to the power of computed tomography scanning.

While a skin graft gun has been worked on for some years at the University of Pennsylvania, it was a topical application that was suited for first and second degree burns, but not necessarily for faster wound healing of other types. A senior at NYU has developed a gel called ‘Veti-Gel’ which is similar to the ‘medigel’ seen in certain scifi franchises-when applied to cuts and abrasions, it rapidly seals up the skin (seen in the video below). A company has been created to produce and market this product. All components have been individually approved by the FDA in other contexts, and the company is seeking to test the product with veterinarians.

The University of Wollongong, Australia, has developed the Biopen. The Biopen is capable of injecting stem cells that encourage bone growth in specific areas, and will allow surgeons finer control in bone reconstruction surgery. The University is working with St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne to further develop the tool before it’s used on humans.

Arsenal Medical has developed Biofoam, which is designed to be injected under certain cases into soldiers that have received internal organ trauma-while it does not encourage healing, it does act as a biocompatible ‘sealant’ that stops organs from leaking more than they already have.