UK Researchers use 3D printing to enable bone regeneration for fractured horse legs

Scientist from the UK’s Animal Health Trust (AHT) and the University of East Anglia(UEA) are partnering up to use 3D printing to help support bone regeneration in horses.

According to Tissue Engineering, “Horses, like humans, can experience bone fractures and due to their large size and need to bear weight on all limbs during the recovery period, they can be difficult to treat.”

3D printed scaffolds can be printed in BendLay Polycarbonate filament, these scaffolds can turn induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) into osteoblasts (bone forming cells). Dr. Debbie Guest, Head of Stem Cell Research, AHT, said: This work paves the way towards the laboratory production of bone constructs that could be used to aid fracture repair in horses; so, could ultimately benefit many horses in the future.”

According to the researchers, “Surgical techniques to improve fracture repair are improving, but to date, regenerative medicine technologies to aid fracture healing are not commonly applied in horses.” This is a cost-effective solution that demonstrates the feasibility of 3D bone construction through cell seeding.

The researchers printed two scaffolds with 150 µm pore size and cultivated the cells. The team found that the fine mesh layer of the scaffolds retained the cells effectively.

This allowed for the diffusion of nutrients and cellular proliferation, migration, and communication. The researcher stated, “We demonstrated that a combination of 150 µm and 400 µm provided an effective scaffold for in vitro differentiation and analysis.” They continue, “Equine IPSCS can be successfully differentiated into bone-forming osteoblasts on a thermoplastic, 3D printed polymer which forms the development of novel methods for improving fracture repair in horses in the future.”

Jackson, Beau, et al. “UK Researchers 3D Print Scaffolds Enabling Bone Regeneration for Fractures in Horses.” 3D Printing Industry, 27 June 2019,