Michigan Tech using 3D printing to help regenerate nerve cells

Michigan Tech’s building bioscaffolding that can help regenerate damaged nerve cells. And it looks like a gummy bear.

3D-printing of bioscaffolding is haute – but the matrices snagging headlines have been in the bone growth space. Researchers at Michigan Technological University say they have expanded this scaffolding science to help rebuild nerve tissue.

It’s integrating graphene to use as an electrical conductor to promote nerve activity – with plans to allow cells grown outside of the body in this matrix to be transplanted back into a patient’s body.

The technology may help regenerate damaged nerve tissue in patients with spinal cord injuries, said Tolou Shokuhfar, director of the Michigan Tech In-Situ Nanomedicine Institute, and a researcher involved in the project. It uses cellulose nanocrystals to help build out the bioscaffolding – which can be produced with a machine the size of a desktop printer, the university says.

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“We are born with all the nerve cells we’ll ever have, and damaged nerves don’t heal very well,” Shokuhfar said in a statement. Because of this, helping along the repair of the existing nerve cells with scaffolding could have wide implications.

 

Here’s a video of the 3D printing process: