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BioPen – draw yourself a new body part

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Using technology similar to those used in 3D printers, researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia have developed a handheld pen that allows surgeons to deliver stem cells at the site of injuries. Dubbed the BioPen, the researchers designed the pen to excrete stem cell material inside a biopolymer, seaweed extract in this case, with an outer gel material. The BioPen then allows surgeons to basically draw all over a patient’s injury, effectively creating a 3D scaffolding of cells around the injury site. A low powered ultra-violet light is attached to the BioPen to allow the dispensed material to dry as it comes out of the pen. The drawn cells will eventually multiply and differentiate into nerve cells, muscle cells, or bone cells — in the hopes that the group of cells will transform into a functioning tissue. Keep reading for a video demonstration of the BioPen.

The BioPen was developed at the University of Wollongong’s Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. The prototype was actually built using parts from a 3D printer found in the labs at the University. The pen was given to the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne for clinical trials. Some of the proposed projects for the BioPen is creating knee cartilage from stem cells on 3D-printed scaffolds to treat cancers, osteoarthritis and traumatic injuries.

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Via: University of Wollongong

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