All-Australian research project set to radically transform tumour surgery  

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A new Australian research project is tipped to transform the way physicians surgically treat tumours and bone cancer, and dramatically improve patient and healthcare outcomes.

The ‘Just in time implant’ project is a collaboration between the Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), RMIT University, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and global medical technology firm Stryker.

The five-year project is funded by Stryker, with a $2.36 million contribution from the IMCRC, a corporate research centre helping in the innovation of Australian manufacturing and industry.

RMIT’s Professor Milan Brandt, who spearheads the project, said the research team combined 3D printing, robotic surgery and advanced manufacturing to create tailored implants for patients with bone cancer.

“Our aim is to bring the technology to the theatre,” Mr 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 the innovative implants would ‘transform the delivery of care for people with 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,” Mr Choong said.

“This process will expand the surgical options available to patients and surgeons and increase the potential for limb saving surgery.”

Mr Rob Wood, Director, Research and Development for Stryker South Pacific, said just in time implants were the future of implants and robotic surgery.

“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,” he said.

“We are extremely excited about this project and the incredible benefits that this research will deliver to patients in Australia and across the world.”

IMCRC CEO and Managing Director, Mr David Chuter, said the project highlighted how research-led innovation in manufacturing delivers better products, services and processes.

“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,” Mr Chuter said.

“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 help Australian businesses to transition from traditional to advanced manufacturing.

“Not only will there be direct business opportunities for Australian companies to become medical suppliers to Stryker, with its global supply chains, 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,” Mr Josserand said.

“These sorts of advanced manufacturing capabilities will ensure competitive advantage for Australian businesses, domestically and internationally.”

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