Major advances in science and life sciences from Welsh Companies and Universities

Science in Wales is booming,  photonics company Sulis Technology and Imperial College London passed phase 1 human trials for a cancer detection system where a flurofore is added to the body of patients making tumours light up like Christmas Trees in real-time.

Working together both parties are now looking to further enhance and commercialise the technology. You can hear more about this below.

Elsewhere researchers in Wales are 3D printing cartilage for people who don’t have body parts or missing facial features because of facial scarring. Experts claim they can print noses, ears and other facial parts using human cells and plant-based materials. This technology could be beneficial to those with facial scarring due to burns, cancer, and other traumas.

The Scar Free Foundation launched a three year PS2.5 million program of “regenerative research” into the technology-based in Swansea University. It aims to advance to human clinical trials. The Scar Free Foundation and Health and Care Research Wales Wales at Swansea University have funded a three-year research program worth PS2.5 million to help advance the development and use of bio-printed facial cartilage.

3D-printed human cells can be made from plant-based materials and can replace the plastic prostheses that were previously used to treat facial trauma victims.

According to The Scar Free Foundation, patients who have lost facial features due to plastic surgery told researchers they didn’t feel like they were ‘part’ of their body and preferred to use their own tissue for reconstruction.

The programme will create a bespoke ‘cartilage scaffold’ for the patient to grow their own stem cells. This will prevent the need for cartilage to be taken from another part of the body.

The process begins with the extraction of human cartilage-specific stem cells (from patients) and nanocellulose (derived form plants) to create a printable “bioink”, which is being printed using equipment from Cellink, a ‘bio convergence” firm.

3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, is the process of creating an object by depositing material one layer at a while.

“The impact of this work could potentially be really exciting,” said Professor Iain Whitaker, a leader of the project at Swansea University. He is the only professor of plastic surgeon in Wales.

It would allow surgeons to take cells from the body and expand them, and then put them in an ink. This could be printed and printed into a three-dimensional structure that can be implanted back into human bodies.

“This would, from our perspective as surgeons, mean that we wouldn’t need to take tissue from another part of the body so it would limit scarring and pain, and increase options for helping people reconstruct defects.

The 3D printer has been used to produce everything, from prosthetic limbs and robots. This version emits a “bioink” made of human cartilage-specific stem cells, and nanocellulose (derived form plants).

Tom Jovic, a trainee plastic surgeon, holds a 3D-printed ear at the Institute of Life Sciences of Swansea University

3D printing uses software to create three-dimensional designs before they are printed by robotic equipment.

An automated robotic arm has a nozzle that emits the printing substance layer by layer. In this case, it is cells or plant-based materials.

Scar Free Foundation’s program will determine the optimal combination of cells for growing new cartilage. It will also ‘optimise nanocellulose Bioinks for 3D Bioprinting’.

The bioinks will be tested in human clinical trials to determine if they are safe, non-toxic, and well-tolerated by the immune system.

Simon Weston is the foundation’s ambassador. He is a British Army veteran from Wales who has recovered from burn injuries sustained during the Falklands War.

He said, “It’s amazing that this research is happening and what we’re going to do is incredible.”

Simon Weston, a British Army veteran from Wales, has recovered from severe burn injuries sustained during the Falklands War

“This new research, bioprinting the ear and nose cartilage from patient’s cells – would have made an enormous difference to me.

“It was simply not possible to reconstruct my ears at that time. I had to literally watch them fall off.

“This research also prevents the need to use skin grafts from other parts of your body, which can be painful and leave behind scarring.

According to Scar Free Foundation, the program will also investigate the effects of facial scarring and mental health.

One in 100 Britons has significant facial differences. These can be very damaging for the body and mind.

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