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VNIT project to develop natural bone implant

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The Times of India | Aug 6, 2016 |

Nagpur: With the aim of developing cheaper medical devices the CAD-CAM centre in mechanical engineering department of the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT) has set up a ’tissue engineering laboratory’ or TEL. This laboratory, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment like a bioplotter, 3-D printer, tissue culture hood, and centrifuge is working to prepare bio-absorbable scaffolds for developing bone implants in future.  The programme is a part of Biomedical Engineering and Technology (Incubation) Centre (BETIC) set up at IIT-Bombay under a national project that also has Government College of Engineering at Pune (COEP) and VNIT as satellite centres. VNIT’s TEL is first lab in any NIT to have a bioplotter that costs about Rs90 lakh. IIT-Kharagpur has a similar machine.  “BETIC was set up to bring clinicians and engineers together for bed-to-bench-to-bed development of medical devices. VNIT’s mechanical engineering department has already developed scaffolds using hydroxyapatite (HA) as the bio-absorbable material using 3-D printer,” said Prof A M Kuthe, co-principal investigator CAD-CAM centre at VNIT.  The total value of medical devices India needs is currently estimated at Rs32,000 crore per year. Over half of these are imported and are unaffordable to most people. Hence there is need for developing cheaper devices. BETICs are a step in this direction. VNIT experiments aim to replace the metal bone implant with one using bone tissue engineering with support from other BETIC partners and National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS), Pune, that would be providing stem cells for trying the experiment first in rats and rabbits before human beings.  “We would be working in collaboration with research laboratory of Central India Institute of Medical Sciences (CIIMS) for animal experiments with Rajpal Kashyap as the lead scientist. At present, we have just developed scaffolds with bioplotter using two different bio-absorbable materials. The aim is to have a scaffold that can be seeded with the patient’s stem cells and implanted in the body. The stem cells are expected to grow into bone shape implant as the bio-absorbable scaffold gradually disappears. It will be a few years before we reach that stage. First it should work in animals,” said Pranav Sapkal, a PhD student working on the project.

In the animal experiments expected to begin soon, researchers headed by Prof Kuthe plan to try developing a very small cranial (brain) bone of 1mm on rats and follow its development for six months. If that works, it would be repeated in rabbits. VNIT has already designed and developed customized metallic implants using rapid prototyping technology. The engineers are now working on developing a scaffold for bone regeneration with Kashyap and Amit Nayak from CIIMS as the team members.  They want a scaffold with no aseptic loosening, no chronic irritation, no corrosion, no re-surgery and complete bone regeneration in 24 weeks or six months as the key features. The researchers have so far developed acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and sintered bio-ceramic based scaffolds.  The tissue engineering laboratory was recently inaugurated by Arun Sapre, member secretary of the Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission (RGSTC), government of Maharashtra, which is funding the project along with department of science and technology (DST), government of India, in presence of VNIT director Narendra Chaudhary.

Innovative engg solutions to medical problems

The mechanical engineering students of VNIT have also developed three small but very useful medical devices, especially for use in rural sector, and are working on three others. All these devices are being developed under Gramin Arogya Sampada Sahayog (GRASS).  The devices include a rhinoplasty forceps, a customized surgical guide and an asthma detector. They are in the process of developing an assisting device for blood pressure measurement that is handy and cost effective for rural clinicians, a digital stetherma, a combination of stethoscope and thermometer for measuring heart rate and temperature suitable for use by non-medicos too, a feeding bottle and dental tray for cleft palate babies and an indicative device for detecting glaucoma in the eyes.  The rhinoplasty forceps have been developed by Prof Rashmi Uddanwadikar with guidance from Dr S N Luley from Indira Gandhi Government Medical College. It helps in doing a clean, easy, trauma free-osteotomy with no hammering. “It is so handy it doesn’t affect the surgeon’s confidence,” said Uddanwadikar.  The glaucoma device can measure intraocular pressure that can indicate chance of a person developing glaucoma in villages where sophisticated equipment is not available. The fully mechanical device does not come in direct contact with cornea and can be used by a general practitioner. Mahesh Mawale is working on the project that is nearing completion.

Sandeep Dahake, who has developed customized surgical guide for mandibular surgeries, said it was easy to find the resection location using this instrument and is very cost effective.  Pranav Sapkal and Sudhanshu Kuthe, who have developed the asthma detector, said it had already been tried in patients in Chargaon village by Dr Urmila Kshirsagar. Sapkal stated it was made of just two tubes– a manometer U-tube and a T-joint. Air was blown with full capacity from a funnel like structure by the patient that pushed a ball inside the tube to a certain level. If it stopped in red zone, it was indicative of asthma and if in green zone it was not. Rohini Bhute and Jyothilal S are working on the assisting device for measuring BP. They said it was much simpler to operate and practitioner in rural areas did not need to buy the costly sphygmomanometer as this equipment would be an ideal replacement for it.  Sukhada Joshi and Apurva Sharan are working on the feeding bottle and dental trays for cleft palate babies while Rima Nandurkar, Chinmay Bansod and Tushar Golghate are working on digi-stetherma. –  Courtesy


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