It is being said that 3D printing of living tissue could be a possibility in the future.
Bio-ink has been made from stem cells by scientists. Thus now complex tissues could be produced using 3D printing. These will take the place of diseased and damaged organs of the body.
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Such regions as the knees or hips may have their components replaced in the future thanks to this scheme of things. One of the University of Bristol experts concerned with this venture said that it was a very exciting development that could lead to a solution to osteoarthritis and tissue degeneration.
It is a part and parcel of regenerative medicine. Bio-printing is the name of the game. It can be used in other fields also. Such emergency issues such as the treatment of burns and the development of organs are precisely where this 3D bioprinting will come in handy.
Bio-ink has even been used to create a tracheal ring. The formula for bio-ink contains human stem cells that can easily be used for the generation of other cell types. The rest of the mixture in bio-ink can be converted from a liquid to a solid at any time.
This bio-ink is sprayed from a special 3D printer head. The base on which it forms a topping is warm in nature. Soon it converts into a solid gel that can form all the living tissue.
It was a great ordeal to design such a bio-ink. Not only do the ingredients have to be printable, but they also have to retain their shape. Many times the process failed and only when the efforts were made for the umpteenth time did the researchers get it right.
Lead researcher Dr Adam Perriman, from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said, "Designing the new bio-ink was extremely challenging. You need a material that is printable, strong enough to maintain its shape when immersed in nutrients, and that is not harmful to the cells. We managed to do this, but there was a lot of trial and error before we cracked the final formulation."
"The special bio-ink formulation was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3D printer, as a liquid that transformed to a gel at 37°C, which allowed construction of complex living 3D architectures."
The stem cells were transformed into bone-building cells. Over a time span of a month and seven days, these stem cells form full tissue structures.
Dr Perriman said, "What was really astonishing for us was when the cell nutrients were introduced, the synthetic polymer was completely expelled from the 3D structure, leaving only the stem cells and the natural seaweed polymer. This, in turn, created microscopic pores in the structure, which provided more effective nutrient access for the stem cells."
At present, the experts in America are using this technology to make on-site printing a possibility. This comes in handy for soldiers who have suffered skin burns and are in great danger. This field is ripe for growth as the years go by. It is indeed the wave of the future.
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The findings of this study '3D Bioprinting Using a Templated Porous Bioink' got published by James P. K. Armstrong, Madeline Burke, Benjamin M. Carter, Sean A. Davis, and Adam W. Perriman in Advanced Healthcare Materials.