Now imagine you have a loved one who battles with diabetes. Their foot wound won’t heal, and amputation may be the only option.
These are just two of the many patient groups that Co-ordinating Principal Investigator Dr Alan Kop, along with his collaborators, Dr Sudhakar Rao and Dr Olufemi Oshin, and their team will try and help using a combination of 3D scanning, 3D printing and stem cell therapy.
“Complex wounds are an increasing worldwide health burden. They cause immense human suffering and can lead to amputation or death,” Dr Oshin said.
In Australia, it’s estimated that treating all wound types costs about $3 billion dollars each year and affects more than 400,000 people.
“Current treatment of complex wounds requires complex care and relies on the painful removal of dying tissue, surgical dressings, and antibiotics to prevent infection,” Dr Rao said.
“In most cases, multiple procedures are required to close the wound. This often includes further surgery using grafted tissue. All this can cause donor site pain and morbidity, rejection of the transplanted tissue and additional surgical wounds.”
Dr Kop said the team’s vision is to heal complex wounds and minimise the physical, physiological and societal impact that a slowly healing wound, a wound without enough viable tissue or a recalcitrant non-healing wound, has on a patient.
“The key aims are to facilitate tissue regeneration with a patient-specific, living tissue- engineered solution and accelerate the wound healing process to, ultimately, achieve scar-less, regenerative repair,” Dr Kop said.
“Our team’s innovation is threefold in that it’s founded on 3D scanning, 3D printing and stem cells. We are one of only a few groups in the world that have taken a tissue-engineered product to a patient clinical trial.”