Naomi Paxton - a rising star in the biofabrication world
Naomi Paxton is one of Queensland’s rising stars in biofabrication technologies. She is completing her PhD within QUT’s ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing. In collaboration with medical device company, Anatomics, she is using a range of biomaterials to fabricate customised implants for individual patients that help to regenerate their own bone tissue.
Naomi is especially interested in a process called melt electrospinning writing (MEW). This is an advanced additive manufacturing technique which allows the deposition of micron-scale fibres in ordered 3D constructs. These fibres mimic the natural extra cellular matrix in bone tissues and ensure that cells attach, grow and proliferate. In early 2019, she won the inaugural Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship, in recognition of the potential impact of her outstanding research that will help patients who have lost bone as a result of accidents, birth defects or diseases such as cancer.
She says “bone grafting is still the gold-standard treatment option, but then you have two surgical sites, which means twice the risk of infection. Grafting is a great solution because the patient’s own tissue is used, but tissue availability is limited and there are challenges.”
Plastics and metals are other common bone replacements, but Ms Paxton says there are also some risks in using them: “We are developing solutions to 3D print bio-resorbable scaffolds that contain the patient’s own cells. We can design patient-specific 3D designs from medical scans so that the implants perfectly fit the individual patient. These bioactive implants begin to rapidly regenerate the patient’s own tissue while degrading and ultimately, they completely heal the bone defect.”