Medical & Dental

Particle3D patents unique biomaterial for 3D printing fully-resorbable bone implants

Danish medical device manufacturer Particle3D has been granted a Chinese patent for a novel bio-ink that enables the 3D printing of fully-resorbable porous bone implants. 

Composed of ceramic suspended in a fatty acid matrix, the firm’s biomaterial enables the production of patient-specific grafts with ‘bone-like’ porosity. Having patented its technology in China, Europe and the U.S, Particle3D now aims to deploy it within “new areas and industries,” and launch a biocompatible line of ‘P3D’ implants with the potential to significantly reduce patient graft rejection.

“We intend to devote significant time and effort to pursuing global opportunities in offering 3D printed implants for different applications, with the possibility of adding slowly-released medication, such as antibiotics, which we believe offers tremendous opportunities for patients and healthcare providers,” commented Thea Wulff Olesen, CEO of Particle3D.

A 3D printed jaw model and bioresorbable implant.
Particle3D’s latest patent accelerates the time to market of its upcoming ‘P3D’ implant range. Photo via Particle3D.

Particle3D’s bone-like bio-ink

Established in 2014 by two medical students and their professor, Particle3D is a company that’s dedicated to developing bone engineering technologies which address end-use clinical problems. The firm’s technology came to be, after it was approached by Odense University Hospital’s Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery division, which tasked its team with finding a better means of replacing removed bone. 

Specifically, the surgeons were seeking a customizable and degradable implant that fits naturally to the human body, and allows for the restoration of patient tissue to its former shape and composition. In response, Particle3D formulated a bio-ink that can be loaded into a syringe, heated to its melting point and extruded in layers onto a cooling stage, on which it re-solidifies into a cohesive part. 

These objects are then sintered to fuse their powder content together and remove their fatty outer layer, leaving behind ceramic devices, capable of integrating with bone in-vivo. Since first patenting its biomaterial in 2015, Particle3D has successfully used it to create several implants, transplanting these into five animal test subjects, and following its latest patent approval it’s now targeting commercialization. 

One of Particle3D's implants being printed.
Particle3D’s implants feature macropores that can be loaded for drug delivery applications. Photo via Particle3D.

Bringing the ‘P3D’ to market

At present, Particle3D only markets its research line of P3D Scaffolds, which yield relevant research models and cell growth support structures, but are restricted to pre-clinical studies. However, using its extensive catalogue of licenses and patents, the company now aims to launch a 3D printable P3D Bone Implant range, that can be customized to meet the needs of individual patients based on CT/MRI scans. 

Made from beta-tricalcium phosphate, the firm’s implants are said to possess a uniquely bone-like internal architecture that facilitates cellular growth and allows nerves and blood vessels to grow around it. As a result, when used within human surgeries, Particle3D anticipates that its upcoming products could shorten operating times, reduce complications and deliver optimal aesthetic results.

Thanks to the macroporous nature of its P3D implants, the company is also able to infuse them with growth factors, antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs. By tailoring the amount of fatty acid in the bio-ink used to create such grafts, Particle3D has already found it possible to dose medication, in a way that makes it easier for patients’ kidneys to metabolize. 

Neither of these P3D implant types have a release date yet, and both are listed as “available soon,” but it’s thought that the firm’s latest patents will shorten their time to market. Issued last month, Particle3D’s most recent approval comes from China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), and covers its technologies, approach to bio-ink formulation and the use of certain alloys in this context. 

Once launched, the firm says that its implant range will “allow businesses across various sectors to enhance their product development and manufacturing,” while its CEO has said that she’s “pleased” with how its “corporate strategy is advancing.”

A diagram of Farsoon's approved 3D printed spinal implant.
3D printed implants are increasingly starting to address the mainstream medical market. Image via Farsoon Technologies.

Bioresorbable bone implants 

Given the biodegradability of metals like magnesium, zinc and porous iron, they potentially represent an ideal basis for bone implants that can be reabsorbed by the human body. In January, engineers at the Delft University of Technology took a similar approach to fabricate iron-based bone implants, capable of reducing inflammation upon implantation. 

Likewise, scientists at the Skolovo Institute of Science and Technology have developed a novel means of 3D printing ceramic bone grafts. The team’s simulation-based approach has enabled them to design devices with large pores, that can be tailored to meet the needs of individual patients, and enable their easier integration with natural tissues.

On a more commercial level, Farsoon Technologies says that it has also gained Chinese regulatory approval for a “groundbreaking” 3D printed spinal implant. Produced using the company’s SLM additive manufacturing technology, the devices feature porous fusion cages that could enable them to treat spinal degeneration, fractures and deformities.

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Featured image shows a 3D printed jaw model and implant. Image via Particle3D.