Nearly 1 in 4 women undergo surgery for pelvic organ prolapse or urinary incontinence in the US. The weakened pelvic floor, which could be caused by childbirth injury, aging, or obesity, fails to support the pelvic organs, resulting in urinary incontinence, sexual difficulties, and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Polypropylene (PP) meshes are often used in reconstructive surgeries as a reinforcement to provide long-term, durable support. However, commercial polypropylene meshes have a risk of complications, such as pain, mesh erosion, and infection. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has consequently re-classified the polypropylene mesh as a high-risk device. Therefore, the need for new meshes to cure POP with a rapid prototyping technique is urgent, especially for personalized medicine.

Therefore, we developed a new implantable mesh using biocompatible polymers (e.g., gelatin, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), chitosan) with controlled bonding strength and tunable lifetime. Our group has leveraged additive manufacturing for porous scaffold structures beneficial for cell attachment and nutrition transmission. Our POP scaffold mesh has demonstrated high biocompatibility and controlled biodegradability. We will also leverage our manufacturing expertise and clinical partnerships to examine cell proliferation and differentiation for tissue regeneration. Our advanced manufacturing method is compatible with other materials and has potential use in layered structures for dental, heart, or bone engineering applications.

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