One of the most painful diseases that human beings can suffer has a lot to do with cartilage degeneration present in our joints, a condition that can also be extremely difficult to repair only through surgery. Due to this and trying to find a much more viable and interesting solution, from the Pennsylvania State University, today we are presented with a finding by which artificial cartilage implants could be created using 3D printing.
Until now, the fact of creating an artificial cartilage had too many cons, not because we are facing a laborious and quite expensive process at an economic level, but because to create an artificial cartilage all the techniques were based on the union of a series of hydrogel nanotubes. This basically what it did was that the cartilage did not allow normal growth of a person.
Going into a little more detail and according to studies referring to this class of cartilage, apparently its use made it inhibit normal cell growth of the patient. As for the experiment carried out at Pennsylvania State University, it seems now that tissues could be created on a large scale without the need, as they say, to make use of any kind of «scaffold«.
To create this new generation of artificial cartilage, a two-step process is followed. First, a series of tiny tubes, 3 to 5 hundredths of an inch in diameter, from alginate, an extract of seaweed. At this point, the cartilage cells begin to stick together without actually adhering to the alginate. After seven days, these cells shed the alginate leaving thin strands of cartilage. These strands or threads are the ones that are finally used to build the material into its desired structure using a 3D printer.
The result is an artificial cartilage whose structure is very similar to natural cow cartilage although, sadly, it is not that strong. Even so, the truth is that according to the tests carried out, it is stronger than the artificial cartilage created from hydrogel. According to the team in charge of the project, it is believed that its strength properties could grow if it is used in real patients since the pressure exerted by the joints would improve its mechanical properties.