Researchers at the University of Columbia may have a new way to improve healing times in human joints dramatically. Using a scaffolding implant and certain growth factors, they were able to entirely regrow damaged bones and tissue in test rabbits in situations that otherwise may have required a new implant, like a titanium joint.
Basically, they print out a wire-frame of the joint or part they’re replacing, and the printed the outlines of that joint with a bioprinter. The material they used will ultimately degrade, but by then the body will have rebuilt a natural joint around it.
The procedure works, basically, by sending out chemical signals that attract a great deal of the body’s own stem cells to the site of the damage. The advantage, here, is that while the stem cells are regrowing whatever they’re supposed to, it can still be used. It also eschews (mostly) the need for costly and difficult joint replacement surgeries which have to be re-performed every 15 years or so when they wear out.
It’s a long ways from being implemented in humans, and they want to try it on goats next to find out the effects of adding more weight to the equation. But here’s the takeaway: pretty soon we’re all going to be able to cage fight like Wolverine from X-Men and survive.