New project: repairing bone defects with the help of additive manufacturing

A new project at Sirris sets out to gain new insight into the 3D production of personalised parts combining bone cells and biocompatible matrices to repair bone defects.

One of the major challenges in modern medicine is improving the treatment of serious and debilitating diseases such as bone diseases. Indeed, the treatment of some defects may require complex surgery followed by a long period of hospitalisation and also be accompanied by serious side effects. There are already treatments available for such symptoms but they are not completely satisfactory. 

Consequently, a tissue engineering approach combining cell therapy and biocompatible matrices could provide a solution to these issues by replacing the patients' deficient cells with healthy ones. 

The primary objective of the Ceracell project, which recently started (M-ERA-NET framework) and will last 2 years, is to explore the feasibility of developing a new tissue engineering product suitable for use in the treatment of bone defects. This will combine differentiated cells (osteoblasts) and a bioceramic 3D matrix personalised to the defect of each patient. This combination will facilitate the creation of a better environment for bone regeneration which will maximise the chances of healing.

In order to achieve this objective, the partner Image Analysis (UK) will process and analyse CT scan images of bone defects by using 3D reconstruction algorithms. In parallel, the osteoblast cell properties will be evaluated in vitro with bioceramic matrices. Sirris will manufacture 3D parts using an additive technology (3D printing) that facilitates both complex and personalised geometries. In addition, the physical and mechanical properties as well as their porosity will be evaluated. Several configurations will be tested in order to best meet the specifications. According to the results of the analyses, a bespoke matrix will be designed. 

Colonisation studies and cell profiling will then be carried out in vitro by Bone Therapeutics, the firm running the project. 

Finally, preliminary in vivo studies will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the product and its biocompatibility.