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3 Ways In Which A 3D Printer May One Day Save Your Life

Date:2016-03-17 Hits:277
3 Ways In Which A 3D Printer May One Day Save Your Life

There are three ways in which 3D printing can be life-saving:

Re-imagining medical imaging
Images are central to practicing medicine; 3d printers can take imaging to a whole new level. Using data from CT and MRI scans to produce liquid plastic models, such printers can replicate the size and density of organs and anatomical parts for surgeons to rehearse on 3D models.  Moreover, printing cells could lead to better ways of studying diseases in the lab and developing therapies.  For example, researchers have printed ovarian cancer cells onto a gel in a lab dish and tested the effectiveness of drugs on them before administering on real cancer patients.
3D models can also be powerful diagnostic tools. 3D mammography, or digital breast tomosynthesis, for example, provides radiologists a clearer view of overlapping layers of breast tissue, leading to life-saving earlier cancer detection, according to studies by a University of Pennsylvania research team.

Replacing tissues and organs
The next step in 3D modeling of the human anatomy is in producing body parts that can go inside the body. Recently, a surgeon used the technology to create a new pelvis for a man, while soldiers could have their bones scanned prior to going into combat so that 3D replicas could be created in case they are injured.
3D body parts can be created even with non-biological materials. The medical device company Anatomics, made history by 3D printing a new titanium sternum and ribs for a cancer patient. The techniques were taken a step further for a face transplant: 3D prints of surgical guides, plates and titanium implants, were used to reconstruct a patient’s entire face.

Designing human-centered medicines
Despite advances in new medicines, more than 50 percent do not take their medications as prescribed. The first 3D printed pill, an anti-epilepsy drug, Spritam, was recently approved by the FDA and takes a step in addressing the problem. Created by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, Spritam uses a 3D printing technology that allows pills to instantly dissolve on the tongue with a sip of liquid, a boon for those with trouble swallowing pills. 
The 3D technology allows printing of high dose medication layer-by-layer without using traditional production, based on compression forces or molding techniques, which limits dose ranges. The 3D technique is the only platform to date that can achieve high doses while maintaining rapid medication disintegration . More generally, 3D printing, through alteration of a pill’s surface area and printing of complex shapes, can allow more reliable and customized control over dosing, size, flavors, and colors, which can be especially useful for the elderly, young children or the physically impaired — usually the largest medicine consumers.

With breakthroughs in 3D printing the medical community is gearing up.