Preventing Cervical Cancer with 3D Printing

Preventing Cervical Cancer with 3D Printing

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in the world, especially in developing countries. Researchers have been searching for a solution for this problem for years. While new treatments and solutions have been developed over in recent years, inadequate healthcare infrastructure, high costs and lack of appropriate technology have remained issues. There has been great progress to aiding cervical cancer but there is still a long way to go with over 275,000 deaths every year and eight percent of all cases occurring in the developing world. Fortunately, a group of biomedical engineers from Jhpiego and Momo Scientific may have found a feasible solution having developed a device designed to fight cervical cancer. 

This new device, designed in a CAD program and prototyped on a 3D printer, is called the "CryoPop" and utilizes dry ice as a cryogenic agent to freeze precancerous lesions in the cervix. While the basic technology of the product is not new, the CryoPop is ten-times cheaper, thirty-times more efficient and more reliable than the treatments currently in use as dry ice is a resource which is usually available in developing countries.

This is fantastic news.

The first CryoPop prototype was printed in the Bioengineering Lab at John Hopkins University; while the first prototype ran into a number of problems, the engineers continued to refine and reverse engineer the device.

First, they needed more precision than the printers at Johns Hopkins could handle. The Johns Hopkins 3D printers only had tolerances of 10-15 thousandths and the support material needed to be manually removed after printing. Next,the engineers tried mechanical machining, but the equipment on hand wasn't capable of drilling holes deep enough to fit the CryoPop's design. Then, they tried printing the device in two pieces and gluing them together.

"Having to glue the parts back together created an entire new set of problems for the design's robustness.  And so that was not an optimal solution," said CryoPop's Project Manager, Marton Varady. "Plus, the material resulted in a porous device and it affected how the snow [the actual cryogenic element] from solid CO2 was forming."

After encountering this problem, the company decided to invest into a professional 3D printing system which would allow them to create the perfect prototype the wanted. Now that the prototype is complete, the CryoPop is currently being tested. Once testing is finished complete, Momo Scientific intends to create a supply chain to distribute the CryoPop throughout India and Africa, where the occurrence of cervical cancer is high.





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