British scientists have developed a new use for 3D printing, putting it to work to create personalized replica models of cancerous parts of the body to allow doctors to target tumors more precisely.
The initiative is the latest example of medicine harnessing the rapidly emerging technology, which has already been used to manufacture some medical implants.
3D printing makes products by layering material until a three-dimensional object is created. Automotive and aerospace companies use it for producing prototypes as well as creating specialised tools, mouldings and some end-use parts.
In healthcare, 3D printers are used by dentists to create replicas of jaws and teeth, as well as some finished dental implants, while orthopaedic surgeons have tested them to make customised hip replacements. And last year U.S. scientists grew human ears from cow cells with the help of a 3D printer.
The new cancer work involves printing 3D “phantoms” of tumours and organs based on CT scans taken of patients during treatment. These plastic moulds can be filled with liquid, allowing experts see in detail the flow of so-called radiopharmaceuticals. … (Read more)