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UA researcher uses 3D printing to regrow bone to help injured combat veterans

TUCSON- A University of Arizona researcher is inventing ways to use 3D printing to regrow bone.

By using a combination of 3D printing and adult stem cells, UA Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery John Szivek hopes this will help injured combat veterans, cancer patients, and victims of serious injuries.

“We developed the idea that maybe we could put in a scaffold that regenerates bone very quickly by adding stem cells from the patient, their own stem cells and by adding some calcium particles and using a pattern that would cause the bone to grow really quickly,” he said.

The Department of Defense awarded Szivek a five year $2 million grant to continue his research.

He explained that the 3D plastic bone shaped frames called scaffolds are locked in place with two screws and a rod that can all be easily removed when bone forms over the scaffold.

“After about six months your body tends to give up producing new bone and starts producing scar tissue so if we can cause healing to occur really quickly we can save the patient from having that problem,” Szivek said.

He said that in addition to the 3D printing, he is working on an implanted sensor system to the scaffold to monitor a patient’s physical activity and how rehabilitation will help the patient grow their bone most quickly.

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper is an anchor and multi-skilled journalist for News 4 Tucson. She anchors KVOA’s newscast weekdays at noon and 4 p.m.
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