A group of University of Alberta researchers has found a way to utilize 3-D bioprinting technologies to make custom-shaped cartilage to be used in surgical procedures. The work intends to make it easier for surgeons to restore the features of skin cancer patients living with nasal cartilage defects following operation.
The investigators used a specially made hydrogel–a material comparable to Jell-O–that may be mixed using cells harvested from a patient and then printed in a Particular form recorded through 3-D imaging. Over a matter of weeks, the material is cultured in a laboratory to become usable cartilage.
“It takes a lifetime to make cartilage in an individual, while this method takes about four weeks. So you still expect that there will be some degree of maturity that it has to go through, especially when implanted in the body. But functionally it’s able to do the things that cartilage does,” said Adetola Adesida, a professor of surgery in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
“It has to have certain mechanical properties and it has to have strength. This meets those requirements with a material that (at the outset) is 92 per cent water,” added Yaman Boluk, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering.
Adesida, Boluk and grad student Xiaoyi Lan directed the project to create the 3-D printed cartilage in hopes of providing a better solution to get a clinical problem facing many patients with skin cancer.
Each year upwards of three million individuals in North America are diagnosed with non-melanoma cancer. Of those, 40 percent will have lesions in their noses, with lots of requiring surgery to remove them. As part of the procedure, many patients might have cartilage eliminated, leaving facial disfiguration.
Traditionally, surgeons could take pus from one of their patient’s ribs and reshape it to fit the necessary size and form to get reconstructive surgery. However, the process comes with complications.
“When the surgeons restructure the nose, it is straight. But when it adapts to its new environment, it goes through a period of remodelling where it warps, almost like the curvature of the rib,” said Adesida. “Visually on the face, that’s a problem.
“The other problem is that you are opening the barbell, which protects the lungs, just to restructure the nose. It is a very vital anatomical location. The patient might have a collapsed lung and has a higher risk of dying,” he added.
The researchers say their work is an example of both precision medicine and regenerative medicine. Lab-grown cartilage printed specifically for the patient can remove the risk of lung collapse, infection in the lungs and severe scarring at the site of a patient’s ribs.
“This is to the advantage of the individual. They could go on the operating table, have a small biopsy taken from their nose in about 30 minutes, and from there we could build unique shapes of cartilage especially for them,” said Adesida. “We can even lender the cells and use them afterwards to build everything needed for the operation. This is what this technology permits you to do.”
The team is continuing its research and is now testing whether the lab-grown cartilage retains its properties after transplantation in animal models. The team hopes to move the work to a clinical trial within the next two to three years.
The study, ” Bioprinting of human nasoseptal chondrocytes‐laden collagen hydrogel for cartilage tissue engineering,” was published in The FASEB Journal.
Xiaoyi Lan et al, Bioprinting of human nasoseptal chondrocytes‐laden collagen hydrogel for cartilage tissue engineering, The FASEB Journal (2021). DOI: 10. 1096/fj. 202002081R
Researchers successfully use 3-D’bioprinting’ to create nose cartilage (2021, May 4)
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