Scottish research linking 3D printing with hip and knee replacements using patients' biological cells has received international acclaim.

The study led by orthopaedic specialists at NHS Golden Jubilee in partnership with the University of Strathclyde explored the use of 3D bio-printing mixed with patient stem cells and elements like calcium to produce 'scaffolds' aiding in the regeneration of bone defects.

Clydebank Post: Gareth Turnbull said patients could receive a biological implant containing their own cells

Gareth Turnbull, the primary author and clinical research fellow at NHS Golden Jubilee, said: "The reason we looked into this area is because a lot of patients can develop significant bone loss or destruction due to a number of conditions such as arthritis, cancer, infection or trauma.

"When patients lose bone it can be a difficult and time-consuming process to regenerate or heal these defects."

"The idea is that by using 3D printing technology combined with biological components such as patient stem cells, we’ll be able to produce live biological implants that could be placed into patients and heal into place within them, instead of the current alternatives like metal implants, which can fail over time in the body as they wear out or come loose."

Clydebank Post: NHS

Mr Turnbull also highlighted the benefits for patients.

Instead of replacing bone defects with artificial implants, or treating arthritis with joint replacements, these patients could receive a biological implant containing their own cells.

This implant would grow into their body and become a part of them.

The research formed part of Mr Turnbull's Biomedical Engineering PhD at the University of Strathclyde.

Among the team's many breakthroughs are the use of robotics in joint replacements and improved recovery pathways post-surgery.

Professor Jon Clarke, orthopaedic research lead at NHS Golden Jubilee, said: "Innovation that benefits patients is always high on our agenda and this award highlights this work.

"Joint replacements, like any mechanical devices, will eventually wear out, often within the life time of the patient.

"Biological constructs offer the potential for longer term survival, which could avoid the need for further operations."

Clydebank Post: Image A is the 3D Discovery (Switzerland) bioprinter with microvalve print-head shown while image B

Prof. Clarke also projected that the technology could be available for patient use within 10 years.

Will Shu, a co-author and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, said: "Our collaboration with NHS Golden Jubilee represents a significant leap forward in surgical technology.

“By combining our expertise in 3D bio-printing with their pioneering techniques in orthopaedic surgery, we're not just enhancing current treatments but revolutionising them.

“This award is a testament to the global recognition of our partnership within the international research community.”