On 25 March 2021, the maxillofacial surgery department of the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels performed a 3D printed bone implant graft on a patient. The success of this world first was confirmed a few weeks after the operation when the doctors noted that the artificial graft had integrated perfectly. This miracle is due to the perseverance and futuristic vision of one man: Grégory Nolens.
Having been a child with a passion for science fiction stories in which technology fixes humans, this man with a PhD in biomedical sciences from the University of Liège founded the company CERHUM in 2015. After years of research and development, supported by the Walloon Region, he achieved his goal of creating fully biocompatible grafts made from hydroxyapatite, a material made of calcium hydroxide and phosphate. In parallel with this work, Grégory Nolens is collaborating with 3D-SIDE, a Walloon start-up that has developed software for planning surgical interventions using 3D technology.
From this meeting Mybone, a 3D printed implant, was born. A true technological and medical feat, the Mybone device allows 3D printing tailored to each patient, and also increases therapeutic performance. This artificial "piece of bone" is striated with micro-channels and porosities that allow the biological bone to recognise it and gradually recolonise it. "This is regenerative medicine, and reconstruction is five to seven times faster compared to a traditional artificial graft." Its biocompatible composition also significantly reduces the risk of infection or rejection. This offers significant therapeutic comfort for the patient.
Having achieved very encouraging post-clinical results, Mybone's qualities promise a bright future in the fields of dental and cosmetic surgery, but Gregory Nolens is already looking further ahead. He dreams of creating 3D living tissues and even functional organs, such as a heart or a kidney, which could then be implanted directly into patients... And why not? As he himself says, "If you have a dream, if you believe in it, persevere, and you will get there!"
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