3D-printed bioplastics could be the future of interventional radiology

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Devices and treatments specifically designed to match individual patient anatomy using 3D printing technologies and resorbable bioplastics are effective at providing targeted treatments against infection and cancer, according to a study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s Annual Scientific Meeting.

A team of researchers, led by Horacio R. D’Agostino, MD, FSIR, an interventional radiologist at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, used 3D printing to create bioactive stents, filaments, catheters and chemotherapy beads capable of administering targeted treatments and medications to select parts of the body. The researchers then tested the devices in cell cultures to determine their effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of bacteria and cancer.

The researchers found that 3D-printed catheters designed to slowly release antibiotics were able to stop bacterial growth, while filaments meant to transport chemotherapy medications to affected cells were successful in stopping the growth of cancer.

“We treat a wide variety of patients and, with some patients, the current one-size-fits-all devices are not an option,” D’Agostino said. “3D printing gives us the ability to craft devices that are better suited for certain patient populations that are traditionally tough to treat, such as children and the obese, who have different anatomy.”

The research team believes more studies—and more collaboration across diverse medical disciplines—is necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of having the devices approved for use in humans. “3D printing allows for tailor-made materials for personalized medicine,” D’Agostino added. “There’s limitless potential to be explored with this technology.”