Scientists in Ireland have developed a process to make new bones using 3D bioprinting technology.

The development could lead to new methods for large and complex defects in bones to be repaired - replacing the need for bone grafts.

More than two million people globally need a bone graft each year to repair problems caused by conditions like tumour removal, infection, injury and inherited deformities.

Grafts usually involve taking bone from the patient's body, or from a donor, but they can be painful, and can lead to complications at the donor and graft sites.

Scientists at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded AMBER materials science centre, hosted at Trinity College Dublin, have developed a new method to make bone material.

Scientists are based at Trinity College Dublin

The team, led by Professor Daniel Kelly, used 3D bioprinting technology to construct cartilage templates in the shape of the missing bones.

This composite of bio materials and stem cells is then implanted under the skin, where it matures in time into fully functioning replacement bone with its own blood vessels.

The research, published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, could lead to numerous applications in areas like head, jaw, spinal and orthopaedic surgery including hip and knee replacements, and where larger more complex shaped implants are needed.