The Future of 3D Printing in Biotechnology

Aditi Kaveti ‘23

Bioprinting
Figure 1. A bioprinting device.

Health technology has advanced tremendously, especially in the field of tissue engineering. Two main products that have resulted from tissue engineering are scaffolds and hydrogels, both being distinct physical forms of polymers for tissue engineered skin. To  enhance cell interaction with polymers, cells need to be present as integrated parts of the bioengineered tissue or host cells need to be recruited for the acellular biomaterial. Scaffolds have a high porosity to facilitate cell ingrowth; embedding living cells directly into the structure allows for a homogeneous cell distribution, and hydrogels closely resemble native tissues and allow for biological agent encapsulation.

A new material developed at Vienna University of Technology acts as a “bio ink” for 3D printers and allows for the embedding of a cells in a 3D matrix printed with micrometer precision. Researchers used a 3D printing method known as two-photon polymerization to process cell-containing materials at remarkably high scanning speeds and produce 3D constructs. For proper cell interaction with tissue-engineered polymers, there needs to be adhesivity for cell attachment, spreading and migration, and the ability of cell proliferation, survival, and differentiation. The results confirmed that the 3D printed hydrogel constructs maintain exceptional biocompatibility, supported cell adhesion and migration, and proliferation capacity. 

The ability to 3D print cells also provides possibilities for changes and specifications of the cells based on the material modulus of the structure. Aleksandr Ovsianikov at UT Vien explains how the 3D scaffolds can be used in conjunction with stem cells to study the spread of diseases or produce tailor-made tissues. He emphasizes that this type of bioprinting is an important step in cell research and will be used in the future.

 

References:

  1. A. Ovsianikov, et al., Thiol–gelatin–norbornene bioink for laserbased highdefinition bioprinting. Advanced Healthcare Materials (2019). doi: 10.1002/adhm.201900752
  2. Image retrieved from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Printer_3D_Bioprinting_Solutions.jpg

 

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