BioPen: A handheld 3D printer for surgeons

A new BioPen developed at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia is is designed to let surgeons “draw” live cells and growth factors directly onto the site of an injury to help accelerate the regeneration of functional bone and cartilage. Instead of plastic filament, the BioPen extrudes cell material inside a biopolymer such as alginate, which is in turn encased in an outer layer of gel material. Both the outer and inner layers are combined in the pen head as it is extruded and the surgeon “draws” to fill in a section of damaged bone. Once the cells have been laid down in the wound site, they multiply and differentiate into nerve, muscle or bone cells to eventually form functioning tissue.┬áThis type of treatment may be suitable for repairing acutely damaged bone and cartilage.

The BioPen developed at the University of Wollongong. (Photo: gizmag.com)

Read more by Darren Quick, gizmag, December 10, 2013.