4D-printed breast implants, you say? But only for cancer patients


Medical staff examine a mammogram for signs of cancer. Irish researchers have come up with 4D breast implants that can deliver cancer-killing drugs, while self-adjusting to fit the individual patient's breast cavity. — dpa

In what they claim is a world-first, researchers at the United Kingdom's Queen's University Belfast (QUB) have produced 4D printed chemotherapeutic implants to help breast cancer patients.

The "multipurpose" shape-shifting prints can "change size to better fit within the breast cavity" and "have the ability to release chemotherapy drugs," the university said last week (July 2023).

They added that the implants also provide "aesthetic and confidence outcomes for those who have or have had breast cancer."

4D printing differs from 3D by offering "dynamic" print-outs "that are able to change their morphology and/or characteristics", but at the same time, "are predictable and programmable, and are enabled by one or more external stimuli, such as the variation in the pH, temperature, humidity, light, or the presence of a magnetic field," QUB said.

The implants were produced using a 4D bioprinter containing the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, which QUB said "enables the implants to change size to better fit within the breast cavity".

"By making, for first time, these 4D printed implants, the breast cavity after surgery can be covered with an implant that mimics the elasticity of the breast and provide better management of the breast cancer by releasing a chemotherapeutic drug that will 'keep away' the return of the tumour," said QUB School of Pharmacy Biofabrication and Advanced Manufacturing chair Professor Dr Dimitrios Lamprou. – dpa

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