What sounds like a dream of the future has already been the subject of research for a few years: simply printing out tissue and organs.
Now scientists have further refined the technology and are able to produce various tissue types.
The recent organ transplant scandals have only made the problem worse. According to the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO), the number of organ donors in the first half of 2013 has declined more than 18 percent in comparison to the same period the previous year. At the same time, one can assume that the demand in the next years will continuously rise, because we continue to age and field of transplantation medicine is continuously advancing. Many critical illnesses can already be successfully treated today by replacing cells, tissue, or organs. Government, industry, and the research establishment have therefore been working hard for some time to improve methods and procedures for artificially producing tissue. This is how the gap in supply is supposed to be closed.
Bio-ink made from living cells
One technology might assume a decisive role in this effort, one that we are all familiar with from the office, and that most of us would certainly not immediately connect with the production of artificial tissue: the inkjet printer. Scientists of the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Stuttgart have succeeded in developing suitable bio-inks for this printing technology. The transparent liquids consist of components from the natural tissue matrix and living cells. The substance is based on a well known biological material: gelatin. Gelatin is derived from collagen, the main constituent of native tissue. The researchers have chemically modified the gelling behavior of the gelatin to adapt the biological molecules for printing. Instead of gelling like unmodified gelatin, the bio-inks remain fluid during printing. Only after they are irradiated with UV light, they crosslink and cure to form hydrogels.
These are polymers containing a huge amount of water (just like native tissue), but which are stable in aqueous environments and when being warmed up to physiological 37°C. The researchers can control the chemical modification of the biological molecules so that the resulting gels have differing strengths and swelling characteristics. The properties of natural tissue can therefore be imitated – from solid cartilage to soft adipose tissue.
In Stuttgart synthetic raw materials are printed as well that can serve as substitutes for the extracellular matrix. For example a system that cures to a hydrogel devoid of by-products, and can be immediately populated with genuine cells. “We are concentrating at the moment on the ‘natural’ variant. That way we remain very close to the original material. Even if the potential for synthetic hydrogels is big, we still need to learn a fair amount about the interactions between the artificial substances and cells or natural tissue. Our biomolecule-based variants provide the cells with a natural environment instead, and therefore can promote the self-organizing behavior of the printed cells to form a functional tissue model,” explains Dr. Kirsten Borchers in describing the approach at IGB.
The printers at the labs in Stuttgart have a lot in common with conventional office printers: the ink reservoirs and jets are all the same. The differences are discovered only under close inspection. For example, the heater on the ink container with which the right temperature of the bio-inks is set. The number of jets and tanks is smaller than in the office counterpart as well. “We would like to increase the number of these in cooperation with industry and other Fraunhofer Institutes in order to simultaneously print using various inks with different cells and matrices. This way we can come closer to replicating complex structures and different types of tissue,” says Borchers.
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Printing tissues and organs
- Laser-welded sugar: Sweet way to 3-D-print blood vesselson June 29, 2020 at 8:07 am
Powdered sugar is the special ingredient in a Rice University recipe for mimicking the body's intricate, branching blood vessels in lab-grown tissues.
- Bayer to test new drugs using human heart tissues 3D-printed at Tel Aviv Universityon June 29, 2020 at 7:28 am
Ramot at Tel Aviv University has signed a collaboration agreement with Bayer to develop and validate a platform for in vitro cardiotoxicity screening, using human heart tissues 3D-printed in Prof. Tal ...
- Using laser-welded sugar, Rice bioengineers build 3D vessel networks for lab-grown tissueson June 29, 2020 at 7:00 am
When biologists think about the role of sugar in cellular biology and the respiration of tissues, they’re typically not thinking of the kind you can find in your kitchen cabinet. But for bioengineers ...
- Israeli university, pharma giant Bayer to test drugs using 3D-printed human heart tissueson June 28, 2020 at 5:15 am
JERUSALEM, June 28 (Xinhua) -- Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel announced Sunday that it has signed a collaboration agreement with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer to test new cardiac ...
- Pharma giant Bayer to test new drugs on researchers’ 3D-printed heart tissueon June 27, 2020 at 4:29 pm
German multinational to collaborate with Tel Aviv University's Prof. Tal Dvir, who unveiled the world's first 3D-printed heart and vessels, to speed up drug validation ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Printing tissues and organs
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Wistar Institute will use 3D-printed lung models made by Allevi for coronavirus researchon June 29, 2020 at 11:15 am
The Pennovation-based company's bioprinting platform will create the models for scientists at the University City biomedical research center to study the virus behind COVID-19.
- Allevi Inc. and The Wistar Institute Collaborate on 3D Bioprinting Project to Advance COVID-19 Researchon June 25, 2020 at 5:53 pm
The Wistar Institute, a biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, and Allevi, Inc. a Philadelphia based startup pioneering innovative 3D biofabrication technologies, ...
- Healthy new tissue can be 'printed' using innovative techniqueon June 25, 2020 at 5:34 am
New muscle has successfully been created in mice using a minimally invasive technique dubbed "intravital 3-D bioprinting" by a team involving UCL scientists.
- NIH grant to bioprint nanoparticles for ovarian cancer immunotherapyon June 19, 2020 at 12:13 pm
The particles will be produced using 3D-bioprinting, enabling them to be released at specified intervals, instead of a continuous slow release.
- 3D bioprinting COVID-19 lung models for drug developmenton June 19, 2020 at 6:08 am
Keith Murphy discusses the process of developing a 3D bioprinted tissue model and their potential in developing therapeutics for COVID-19.