The vitamin that’s in cottage cheese and green vegetables — riboflavin, commonly called B2 — has been found to make safer, specialized medical implants that are produced using a three-dimensional (3-D) printing technique.
The discovery, which was made from researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU), the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover in Germany, allows scientists to create finely tuned, biocompatible structures, according to an NCSU press release. The structures include scaffolds for tissue engineering, microneedles, and implantable drug-delivery devices.
“This opens the door to a much wider range of biocompatible implant materials, which can be used to develop customized implant designs using 3-D printing technology,” says Dr. Roger Narayan. He is the senior author of a paper, published in Regenerative Medicine, describing the work and a professor in the joint biomedical engineering department at NCSU and UNC-Chapel Hill.
The researchers modified the 3-D printing technique called two-photon polymerization, reports Medgadget.com. The technique makes small-scale sold structures from types of photoreactive liquid precursors. Medgadget.com explains further how the process works:
During this process a photosensitive block of precursor liquid reacts with a targeted light source. The light source selectively solidifies the liquid into 3D patterns via polymerization allowing complex structures such as tissue scaffolds to be printed.
The process has its disadvantages, though. Many of the chemicals mixed with the precursors to make them photoreactive are toxic. This condition can be a problem if the printed structures are used in a medical implant or come into direct contact with a human body.
This is where the riboflavin comes in. The researchers found that the vitamin can be mixed with the precursor materials to make them photoreactive. The riboflavin is nontoxic and biocompatible because our bodies are used to metabolizing B2, as it is found in many foods we eat, including asparagus and cottage cheese.
Manufacturers of medical implants certainly don’t want to have their product fail or contaminate patients. Researchers at Polymer Solutions, Inc., specialize in testing medical devices and implants to ensure that they are safe and effective. The tests the technicians routinely perform include chromatography, physical testing, and thermal anlaysis.
Source: “Study Finds Natural Compound Can Be Used for 3-D Printing of Medical Implants,” North Carolina State University, 10/23/13
Source: “Researchers 3D Print Vitamin B2 to Produce Bio-compatible Scaffolds,” Medgadget.com, 10/24/13
Image by Muffet.