Bone is an unusual tissue as it can heal itself. However, several factors ranging from poor blood supply and infection can cause repairs to go wrong. Current treatments that try to correct improper healing are limited and risky, so new regenerative techniques are being developed. Tissue engineering, for example, combines materials and cells to produce structures that can be used to mend damaged bone. Foundations, or scaffolds, made out of different materials are produced by various means, including 3D printing. These scaffolds (pictured) contain many pores to promote cell growth and allow sufficient blood supply for tissue repair. Different cells and factors that promote regrowth are then combined and added to this foundation. The completed construct is then transplanted onto the damaged bone. Such research is in the early stages but it could be a promising alternative therapy to promote bone regeneration in the future.
Written by Cara Foley
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