Knee injury recovery with 3D printing technology

George Washington University alumnus Ben Holmes envisions a world where severe knee injuries don’t equate with months of bed rest, crutches and a painful recovery. Dr. Holmes and his partner Nathan Castro, a fellow GW alumnus, are currently developing a product that could keep young athletes on the playing field after what could be career-ending injuries.

Dr. Holmes and Dr. Castro began working in a laboratory under GW Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Science Lijie Grace Zhang studying nanomedicine and tissue engineering. Their research led to the development of a 3D-printed, implantable device that fosters bone and cartilage repair and regrowth.

The duo developed a composite material which in combination with stem cells fosters tissue growth when implanted. Dr. Holmes said the material is robust, versatile and would be easy to manufacture with industrial quality 3D printing. “We’d like to return people to full activity. Impact sports, running, basketball, whatever they were doing before they had their injury,” said Dr. Holmes, the CEO of Nanochon. “Overall quality of life could be much better for patients treated with something like this as opposed to something that exists.”

With help from the Technology Commercialization Office and the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, both within the Office of the Vice President for Research, Dr. Holmes and Dr. Castro were able to patent their idea and develop their startup. Dr. Holmes said if Nanochon receives funding at the right times, the 3D-printed implant could be on the market in three to four years.