3D PRINTERS, STEM CELL REPLACEMENTS AND TOPICAL PEPTIDES – MEDICAL SCIENCE PROMISES US HEALTHIER BONES, NEW ORGANS AND LESS NEEDLES, SAYS DR ZAC TURNER. HURRAH FOR THE WHITE COATS!
3D printed body parts? Not science fiction.
Advances in topical treatments – medicines delivered by gel or cream onto the skin – are helping people all over the world and are making medications more accessible.
Creams and gels are often more stable than l iquids and so are less l i kely to breakdown under harsh conditions. The hope is t hat topical t reatments will soon be available for t hings l i ke i nsulin, helping prevent t he regular needles t hat even young children need if t hey’re born diabetic.
Peptide creams are taking the skincare industry by storm and are being utilised for crow’s feet, baggy eyes, wrinkles and more. Peptide creams are being used to help treat not only the face and skin but our whole bodies. From increasing muscle size, repair, anti-ageing, fat loss or even getting that perfect tan, peptide creams are increasing in popularity.
The creams are rubbed into the forearms and are absorbed into the skin, removing the need to use needles. When compared to subcutaneous injections, peptide creams have been proven to be 90 per cent as efficient and are much more affordable.
MEDICINE VIA FACETIME
Imagine not having to travel to the doctor’s surgey or sit in the waiting room. Instead, you jump online and instantly begin a consultation with your healthcare provider. It’s called telemedicine and it’s a cheaper, more convenient way of reaching your doctor and it’s already happening.
In addition to using a Facetime chat to diagnose basic illness, some companies are creating new technologies to help those in remote areas where properly trained medical staff are not as readily available. Take, for example, telementored ultrasound systems (RTMUS).
Basically, the end piece of the ultrasound (US) is sent to the patient, who plugs it into an iPad and gives a doctor, potentially thousands of kilometres away, a visual ultrasound via the internet connection. The doctor can tell them which way to move the US to properly diagnose the condition.
This saves times and money for both the patient and the doctor as neither has to travel to see the other. This is only the beginning, however, with doctors and surgeons now taking guided virtual reality (VR) tours of our bodies… I wonder when dating apps will also include this virtual reality component?
3D PRINTING BONES
Advances in medical technology are exploding using 3D printers. In the future, a broken or shattered bone could be healed much faster than the way we doing things now.
Scientist have created what is being termed a “hyperelastic bone” made up of three ingredients: hydroxyapatite, polycaprolactone, and a solvent. Hydroxyapatite is a mineral that occurs naturally in our bones and initiates the first steps of our stem cells beginning to grow. Polycaprolactone allows f lexibility. You might not think of bones as being f lexible but, in fact, without f lexibility, a lot of the positions we put ourselves into would result in serious breakage if they weren’t. Lastly, a solvent is used to stick the layers together during the printing process. The combination of all three creates a perfect environment from which our stem cells can grow naturally while remaining f lexible enough for movement.
The printing process can be much cheaper than anticipated because biomedical labs use the material a lot. Also, the specific measurements and printing time could all be done in a few hours. This time would reduce as technology in the field advances.
In addition to this hyperelastic technique, a company called Xilloc is using calcium phosphate printing to help unify with the patient’s bone, most likely used for larger bones in the body. This is commonly seen in reconstructive surgeries of the face and scalp.
Imagine something you’d like 3D printed exactly as you wish and then have real stem cells grow throughout to make it truly your own. Just wait until things can be made functional as well.
STEM CELLS AND DECELLURISATION
Stem cells are a class of undifferentiated cells, which means they have the potential to change and become any specialised cell type from brain to belly to blood.
Scientists have found that stem cells can create almost anything the body may need – organs, limbs, an ear – the list is endless. The most soughtafter medical research is in the field of growing vital organs. The waiting list for organ transplants is never ending with demand increasing as we continue to live longer. Stem cell technology will help as we become able to “upgrade” our organs when they become ineffective.
Problems arise, however, when stem cells don’t know the specific architecture of an organ. They may be able to transform, individually, into heart cells, for example, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stack themselves properly and create four chambers that are able to pump blood through the body.
But scientists have found a way around this issue by taking organs from very recently deceased individuals and subjecting them to a decellurisation process known as “retrograde perfusion”. This strips the organ of its cells while maintaining its structural tissues, leaving behind the “architectural design” of the organ.
A decellurised heart would then be implanted with harvested heart stem cells and, with the arteries and veins connected to manipulate blood f low, over time the heart would begin to beat successfully and could then be transplanted into a human. This has been done with almost all organs but more research is needed in order to begin human trials. MORE: Dr Zac Turner (MBBS RN Bsc) can be contacted at www.drzac.co