Swansea University has been invested £2.5 million to 3D print cartilage from cells and plant materials. If successful, this could become a widespread rehabilitation practice for people affected by burns, injuries, the consequences of oncology, or people with birth defects.
Patients in Wales may be among the first in the world to experience an innovative approach to plastic surgery. Today, the restoration of cartilage tissue is carried out by borrowing part of the ribs and implanting them under the skin, but this procedure is fraught with scarring, followed by deviation from aesthetic standards.
“I hope that Wales will be one of the first places in the world where patients will benefit from this technology,” added Professor Ian Whitaker, who led the experiment.
In his opinion, the use of printers will reduce the time of surgical interventions, improve the patient experience and save them money. The next clinical trials could take place in Swansea in a few years.
The body of Simon Weston, MBE, is 85-90% scarred from the disaster on the ship he served on during the Falklands War.
“The opportunity to regain self-confidence in people with disabilities is now real. You can’t change what happens to people, but with this research and development, you can change what their future might look like,” said Sir Weston, Lead Ambassador for The Scar Free Foundation.