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3D Printing a New Face

ROSEMONT, Ill., March 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An individual's appearance and facial features are largely dictated by their bone structure.  For patients who have experienced injury or disease leading to the damage or loss of bone in their face, the standard method of treatment is to use a large bone graft or metal implant to replace their damaged bone.  Unfortunately, these treatment options are unlikely to result in something closely resembling the original bone structure.

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"We're focused on developing better technologies for bone regeneration," explains Josh Temple of the Grayson Laboratory for Craniofacial & Orthopaedic Tissue Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.  He and his colleagues have been working closely with plastic and reconstructive surgeons with the hope that applying a tissue-engineering approach to damaged facial bones will result in bone grafts that more closely mimic the shape of the original bones.  

"Our custom 3D printer," Temple explains, "allows us to convert a CT scan of the bone of interest into a porous, biodegradable scaffold that serves as a template for new bone formation."  He goes on to describe the next steps in the process: "We fill the pores of the scaffold with fat-derived stem cells and demonstrate that these cells can form new bone as well as blood vessel networks, both of which are critical for functional bone grafts." 

The next step for this team is to work on enhancing the scaffold's potential to induce bone to form.  Their hope is to develop a treatment option that would allow patients to retain more of their original appearance. 

Temple's research was recently presented at the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) in New Orleans.  Founded in 1954, the Orthopaedic Research Society strives to be the world's leading forum for the dissemination of new musculoskeletal research findings.  The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body.  

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SOURCE Orthopaedic Research Society

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