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Scientists developed a technology for printing customised neuroprostheses on a 3D bioprinter

Official website of Saint Petersburg State University.

Scientists developed a technology for printing customised neuroprostheses on a 3D bioprinter

Researchers from St Petersburg University have developed the NeuroPrint soft neuroprosthesis 3D printing technology. In the long term, this can help paralyzed people after spinal cord injury. The new development has already shown its effectiveness in studies on mammals and zebrafish. The results are published in Nature Biomedical Engineering .

According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion people, that is, about 15% of the world’s population, have various forms of disability. Every year, up to half a million people receive spinal cord injuries, which are often accompanied by paralysis, and disorders of autonomic functions. To find ways to restore health to people with disabilities, researchers are developing invasive neuroprostheses that can transmit electrical signals to the spinal cord and brain and recover lost functions.

One of the main challenges faced by doctors and scientists is the adjustment of neuroprostheses to the surrounding nerve tissues of a person. Despite the biocompatible elastic materials, it is not always possible to adapt quickly the device to the anatomical and age characteristics of the patient. The solution to this problem has been proposed by a research team headed by Professor Pavel Musienko from the Institute of Translational Biomedicine at St Petersburg University and Professor Ivan Minev from the University of Sheffield (the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, the University of Sheffield). They have developed a new 3D printing technology that makes it possible to rapidly customise muscular and neural implants for monitoring and restoring of motor and autonomic functions.

This patient-specific approach is now possible thanks to NeuroPrint hybrid 3D printing technology. First, the printer creates the geometry of the future implant made of silicone, which also serves as an insulating material. Then microparticles of platinum or another electrically conductive element of the implant are applied to the framework. Then the surface is activated by cold plasma. Moreover, the number and configuration of electrodes in the neural implant can be changed, producing devices for implantation in the tissue of the spinal cord, brain or muscles. The average production time from project creation to prototyping can be just 24 hours.

‘By the developed technology, the process of creating implants can become a lot faster and cheaper,’ said Professor Pavel Musienko,…

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