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3D printing creates potential solution for tuberculosis

Photo Credit: Airlangga University

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause it spread from one person to another through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.

This disease, unfortunately, is found in Indonesia and had caused a death toll of 1.2 million people. According to data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Indonesia is ranked as the 3rd country with the most TB patients in the world.

According to a recent press release, this is the reason behind why three Biomedical Engineering students from the Airlangga University (UNAIR) submitted a Student Creativity Program (PKM) proposal titled, “Prospect of 3D Printing in Bone Scaffold Making as Spinal Tuberculosis Drug Delivery.”

The Project

The team believes that in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 era, there is a great opportunity for innovations to overcome and solve problems.

Thus, the team thought of using 3D printing technology, which is one of Industry 4.0’s five main technologies, to address the tuberculosis issue.

The team’s research proposal was successful in getting a grant from Indonesia’s Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, made possible through the PKM program in 2018.

The grant helped the team as they developed the prototype of their proposal at the University’s Material Physics Laboratory, in the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Upon 3D printing the bone scaffold, they injected it with IBS paste.

As explained, a bone scaffold is technology developed through tissue engineering, which would serve as the ‘home’ for the growth of a new bone tissue.

The 3D printing technology allows flexibility to the design of the bone scaffold because the bone scaffold can be designed according to the form of the bone damage.

This is done so that it can serve as a useful temporary support for the bone tissue that was damaged by the bacteria.

Benefits of the project

Moreover, the material used for the bone scaffold has been proven to be safe and would eventually be degraded by the bodily fluids.

Meanwhile, the IBS paste that was injected acts not only as filler, but also as an antibiotic drug for spinal tuberculosis.

Hence, the combination of the 3D printed bone scaffold and the IBS paste will be very effective in overcoming spinal tuberculosis.

This will be replacing the spinal structure that was damaged by the bacteria, and at the same time it will serve as a local drug delivery.

Furthermore, the 3D printed bone scaffold offers an effective, efficient and inexpensive alternative to the more conventional way of making bone scaffolds.

Hopefully, the technology created by the team could end up as the breakthrough needed to effectively address the spinal tuberculosis problem.


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