back to article Printed-out dissolving bones, teeth work well in rats

Scientists have developed a way to make bones and teeth using an inkjet printer. The printed bones are doing well in rats and rabbits and the engineering team at the Washington State University predict that their bony print-outs could be in mainstream use in human medicine in as little as 10 years. The engineering team led by …


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  1. Ian Ferguson


    May I be first to place an order for a titanium skellington?

    1. relpy

      And may I...

      be the first to welcome our new titanium boned overlords.

      I'm so very very sorry.

  2. Josco

    Longer legs

    As my legs are a little on the short side, could I have this procedure to lengthen them?

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re leg lengthening

      There's a simplier and presumably cheaper, proven method: break it, stretch it, fasten it, wait.

      Beer, it eases the pain a bit.

    2. alwarming
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Longer legs

      Thanks god, its your legs which are short - coz there is no bone in a boner.

      Paris, coz she can debone even the most bone headed.

  3. FunkyEric

    I'll have adamantium please

  4. Timmay

    Does this mean I can I stop cleaning my teeth now?

    1. Graham Marsden

      I presume...

      ... the "Spawn of Satan" icon is representative of how your breath will smell...!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another piece of the puzzle?

    Read about some scar-tissue-inhibiting powder that was supposed to be able to let you regrow missing meat. Wonder if we won't be able to regrow entire limbs (with a little help from this and that) in a couple decades.

    1. Simon Neill

      Regrown limbs.

      I imagine the technical challenge of growing the meat/bone is the easy part. The problem even with reattaching original limbs is connecting the nerves more than anything, they are tricky buggers.

      I also wonder how much variation there would be between a regrown limb and the original - a blood vessel/nerve cluster being half a centimetre to the left/right seems like it would be a problem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, regrow in place.

        Reattachment already happens with severed fingers and such, so I suppose the nerve-reattachment thing can be done even if it costs a lot of work to do. If you need to regrow apart I imagine that you'll have to figure out where to start, provide a matrix of sorts, which might include vessel and bundle endpoints, maybe. You'd have to provide some sort of blood flow anyway. The thing I vaguely recall reading about, though, was some powder out of heavily modified pig cells that inhibited forming of scar tissue so that instead normal tissue resulted. The article said something about an american veteran missing a finger or something and with a bit of powder on the wound every day the finger was growing back in place. Very close to pixie dust, that.

        How this'd work exactly is something for the medicos to work out, which I'm not. Just speculating, seeing they've apparently found another piece of the puzzle. They'll figure out something workable or not, as the case may be. I just would love to see this happening in my lifetime.

  6. AbortRetryFail

    Have they worked out how to make blades shoot out from between your knuckles and later retract again?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Yes, but...

      ... the instant healing is giving a bit of trouble at the moment, so it gets a bit messy!

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


        ... while they're retracted your wrists are immobilized. (Marvel Comics: Ignoring physiology since forever.) Which makes them too much of a lifestyle change for the target audience.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Super bones

    Hmmm I bet DARPA are interested.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What triggers...

    ... or stops the growth? In "a few weeks" the bone is formed, but once it's inserted, what's to stop it from growing and growing?

    1. Chemist

      "or stops the growth"

      Good question. It is controlled in normal bone repair but quite how ...

      Even more astonishingly normal bone is constantly remodelled by osteoclast cells that attach to the bone, dissolve away the mineral part, enzymatically degrade the protein matrix and then the 'hole' is refilled with fresh protein by osteoblast cells . The protein matrix acts as a scaffold for calcium ions in the blood to deposit and remineralize the bone.

      The process may stop naturally as all the protein is covered calcium but I'm not sure about that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a climber

    I'd like an extra couple of inches on the fingers please.

    Oposable toes would be nice too!

  10. sebacoustic

    Zinc Oxide

    Where would we be without zinc oxide, indeed. Does anyone remember that?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, that's the Bone lacing taken care of...

    When do we get the Wired Reflexes?

  12. phlashbios
    Thumb Up

    We have the technology....

    Coming to a TV screen near you shortly.... Steve Austin the documentary :-)

    1. Titus Aduxass

      Me! I do.

    2. Graham Marsden

      Does anyone remember that?

      I think so, but I was distracted by a documentary about Catholic High School Girls...

      1. perlcat
        Paris Hilton

        Were you yenning for a fistful?

        Did you hire Big Jim Slade to help out?

  13. Efros
    Thumb Up

    Please tell me it

    Costs 6 Million Dollars!

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    regrowing bits

    A few people have already managed to regrow things like amputated fingers without any medical technology intervention (much to the consternation of everyone involved). A lot more people have managed to regrow chunks of meat without any obvious scarring - again the docs have no real explanation about how it's possible/what triggers it.

    The mechanisms are poorly understood but there's a lot of hope that the genes which control this kind of thing are merely switched off in mammals, instead of missing entirely. They do seem to be active up until a few days after birth.

    This kind of skeleton is likely to be most useful in geriatric medicine (osetoporosis is a nasty thing to have) but I'll be more impressed when they can replace/regrow worn out cartilige instead of fitting an artificial joint - those involve so much bone damage that it can usually only be done once and the things only have around 10-20 year life span.

    1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge

      @Alan Brown

      According to the Missus, an Orthopaedic Theatre Nurse, they do routinely replace worn out hip replacements now.

    2. Chemist

      "so much bone damage that it can usually only be done once"

      Whilst I agree that it's difficult I do know of 2 people that have had 3 hip replacements. Takes quite a bit of doing and can involve bone-grafts

  15. Purlieu

    At last

    All those penis extension emails come true !!!!

    1. alwarming

      Re: At last

      At last ? At last ?? Now you tell me!!!!!!!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Super soldiers?

    Bit stronger and ribs closer spaced and you have someone who is practically bullet all we need to do is figure out how to defy gravity.....superhero status here we come...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Super human upgrades

    What about graphene doping?......

    lighter but much stronger skeleton with the potential to genetically predispose someone to larger / stronger muscle mass allowing better strength, speed, agility etc, perhaps even better longevity....though might require some legislative changes......I could see some people wanting to off themselves after a few hundred years of life, others might choose to live population would really explode then though.....hmmmmm

  18. CraigW


    Growing them in the right shape over a scaffold is one thing, but do they have the same internal structure as the original?

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