Scientists over at the University of Wollongong, Australia, have managed to come up with the BioPen, a handheld 3D printer which, should it be successful, be able to replace traditional surgery by making it a more artistic work, so to speak. With the BioPen handheld 3D printer, it is capable of printing bone directly onto patients in the operating theater itself, now how about that? Does this mean that budding doctors and surgeons will now have to take up at least a module in art in medical school from now on? I don’t think so, but having a penchant for Paint by Numbers might be an added advantage, especially if I am on the receiving end of the BioPen.
Just how does the BioPen work? It will rely on a stem cell ink that can be set to differentiate between muscle, bone, and nerve cells. The use of a special seaweed-based growth culture would help encourage the cells to thrive in an environment that is initially foreign to them, while the inclusion of a second polymer that has been previously cured by a UV light, would be able to deliver the necessary level of protection in the form of a shell throughout the healing process. Needless to say, this is a work in progress, but imagine the possibilities if it was approved for general use! [Press Release]