3D printed, artificial tissues that heal bone, cartilage may give a new lease of life to athletes' careers

WASHINGTON: Scientists are developing 3D-printed artificial tissues that may help heal bone and cartilage typically damaged in sports-related injuries. The researchers at Rice University in the US engineered scaffolds that replicate the physical characteristics of osteochondral tissue - hard bone beneath a compressible layer of cartilage that appears as the smooth surface on the ends of long bones. The gradient nature of cartilage-into-bone and its porosity have made it difficult to reproduce in the lab, but the scientists used 3D printing to fabricate what they believe will eventually be a suitable material for implantation. "Athletes are disproportionately affected by these injuries, but they can affect everybody," said Sean Bittner, a graduate student at Rice University.