An Australian research project using 3D implants and robotic surgery is set to drastically advance the way doctors surgically treat bone cancer and tumors. It is also anticipated to greatly improve patient and healthcare results.
The five-year project, “Just in time implants”, combines the Australian Government, RMIT University in Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and global medical technology company Stryker.
Worth over $12.1 million in research effort, the project is partly funded by Stryker with co-funding from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), which is offering $2.36 million in cash.
Lead researcher, RMIT’s Professor Milan Brandt, and the project team will integrate 3D printing, robotic surgery, and advanced manufacturing to develop custom-made implants for patients with bone cancer.
“Our aim is to bring the technology to the theatre,” Brandt said. “While patients are having their cancer removed in the operating theatre, in the next room, we are custom printing an implant to precisely fill the space left after removal of the diseased bone.”
St Vincent’s Hospital’s Professor Peter Choong said just-in-time implants will revolutionize the delivery of care for patients dealing bone cancer.
By combining specialised imaging techniques, 3D printing and the accuracy of robotic assisted surgery, we are aiming to deliver a personalised implant in time for the surgeon to remove the cancer and repair the patient’s bone in the one operation, this process will expand the surgical options available to patients and surgeons and increase the potential for limb saving surgery.
Professor Peter Choong, St Vincent’s Hospital’s
The novel process signifies a key shift in the way implants are engineered, manufactured, and delivered and could lead to tailored local manufacturing.
“This is the future of implants and robotic surgery,” said Director, Research and Development for Stryker South Pacific Rob Wood.
“Australia is leading the way globally in developing and implementing new manufacturing models and technology in the medical space – combining robotic surgery and additive manufacturing.
“We are extremely excited about this project and the incredible benefits that this research will deliver to patients in Australia and across the world.”
David Chuter, IMCRC CEO and Managing Director said that the project was a huge example of how research-led innovation in manufacturing stimulates better products, processes, and services.
“This is a significant research investment into Australia by Stryker – seeing a global organisation collaborating with two Australian universities and a local hospital. It highlights how Australia’s medtech environment offers research partners a unique setting for innovative research programs,” said Chuter.
“Specifically, this project will establish advanced manufacturing capabilities that will ensure competitive advantage domestically and internationally.
“It will also train a new generation of engineers and researchers in medical robotics and the additive manufacturing of medical implants.”
Professor Emmanuel Josserand, Director of the Centre for Business and Social Innovation at UTS, said the project would also have a broader influence for business and the economy, as Australia shifts from traditional to advanced manufacturing.
Not only will there be direct business opportunities for Australian companies to become medical suppliers but there will also be an opportunity for the technologies and manufacturing know-how developed within this project to transfer over time to other local industries, these sorts of advanced manufacturing capabilities will ensure competitive advantage for Australian businesses, domestically and internationally.
Professor Emmanuel Josserand, Director of the Centre for Business and Social Innovation at UTS