A printer that can save lives

First used in the 1980s for car manufacturing prototypes, 3D printing has grown to have a significant impact on medicine today, where it can provide solutions for complex or high-risk situations.

How do doctors use 3D printers? After taking a scan, such as a CT or an MRI, of a particular area, a specialised computer graphics programme uses these results to create the exact dimensions for of the same area. These are sent to a 3D printer, which outputs the replica, in a variety of biocompatible materials. When a delicate touch is needed From Michigan, USA, where researchers printed a splint to hold open a section of a baby’s airway[i], to Hangzhou, China, where a 21 year old man with a rare spinal tumour was fitted with a custom-designed prosthesis to reinforce damaged vertebrae[ii], Read more

New treatments and progress against ALS


ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a degenerative disease caused by the deterioration of the motor neurons in our nervous system. This process can lead to the death of these cells, causing muscular paralysis in the patient.

Of the ALS cases currently diagnosed, 10% are linked to genetic disorders, with 90% remaining a mystery to medical community. Research in this field therefore continues to be essential for improving prospects for ALS patients. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a highly disabling disease. Fortunately, advances in both medical treatments and specific technology have been made in recent years which allow for progressive improvement in patients’ quality of life. Present day treatments – looking toward the future The battle against ALS is currently focused around three main pillars: - Activities aimed at stopping the advance of ALS in its various stages. - Effective treatment of symptoms Read more

Living with a rare disease

Given the proximity of the World Rare Disease Day, which will be held this Friday (the 28th of February), we want to devote today’s post to analysing the situation of those patients suffering from a disease of this kind.

These diseases affect a very small number of people, although, to begin with, we must clarify how the difference in criteria varies from one country to another when classifying these diseases.

-        Diseases are considered rare in the U.S. when they affect less than 200,000 people. -        In Europe, diseases are considered to be rare when their prevalence is less than one case in 2,000 people. -        While in Japan it is considered a rare disease if it only affects up to 50,000 people. Regardless of this disparity of criteria, the real problem we find ourselves faced with is the need for all parties concerned to work jointly at a multinational level in search of solutions for this number of patients, which, globally, is not so insignificant. Implications of rare diseases The challenge for patients with Read more