4D printed multipurpose smart implants for breast cancer management

Sofia Moroni, Rachel Bingham, Niamh Buckley, Luca Casettari, Dimitrios A. Lamprou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is the primary strategy for treating early-stage breast cancer; however, the incidence of local recurrence and breast tissue loss negatively impacts patients and survivors. Furthermore, radiotherapy and/or systemic therapies are frequently advised to avoid recidivism and increase the patient’s chance of survival, resulting in longer duration of treatments, and unpleasant systemic side effects. Given the poor prognosis and the heterogeneity between individuals and tumors, a patient-centered approach is fundamental. Herein we developed a multipurpose 4D printed implant made of a blend of carboxymethyl cellulose sodium salt (CMC) and cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), loaded with doxorubicin (DOX). To predict printability performance, full rheological characterization was carried out. The smart device was programmed to change size, under swelling, to better fit in the tissue cavity, resulting in a great potential for personalization, thus improving the aesthetic outcomes. The influence of the formulation and printing parameters on the morpho transformation was investigated through the swelling test, confirming the possibility to program the 4D shape. The manufactured implants were characterized by a variety of methods, including in vitro release studies. Lastly, the anticancer activity was conducted in vitro, on MDA-MB-231 cells. Implants promoted an anticancer effect of −58% viability after 72 h incubation, even when tested 4 weeks after the printing process. Overall, the morpho transformation and the in vitro studies have shown that the implant could represent a potential strategy for breast cancer following resection, to fill the void in the breast resulting from the surgery and provide an anticancer effect to avoid recurrence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number123154
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmaceutics
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023


  • 4D Printing
  • Bioprinting
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Breast Cancer
  • Drug Delivery
  • Hydrogels
  • Implants


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