The Smart Magazine About Medical Technology Innovations

#15 - 3D Printing in Surgery

3D-Printed Gel Replicates the Folding of a Human Brain


Courtesy of Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

A new study published in Nature Physics by researchers from Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and scientists in Finland and France tried to understand how the brain folds. This is important to unlock the inner workings of the brain and unravel brain-related disorders.

To study this, the team of experts made a 3D gel model of a smooth fetal brain based on MRI images. The model’s surface was coated with a thin layer of elastomer gel as an analog of the cortex. Within minutes of being immersed in a solvent, the resulting compression led to the formation of folds similar in size and shape to real brains.

Co-author Jun Young Chung explained that this research “shows that if a part of the brain does not grow properly, or if the global geometry is disrupted, we may not have the major folds in the right place, which may cause potential dysfunction.”


Courtesy of Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS

Courtesy of Mahadevan Lab/Harvard SEAS

About the Author

Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.

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