Personalized bioprinting of tissues and organs in the body

June 13, 2023

(Nanowerk News) In place bioprinting, which involves 3D printing biocompatible structures and tissues directly inside the body, has made steady progress over the last few years. In the recent study, the research team developed a hand-held bioprinter that overcomes the main limitations of previous designs, namely the ability to print multiple materials and control the physicochemical properties of the printed tissue. These devices will pave the way for a wide range of applications in regenerative medicine, drug development and testing, and custom orthotics and prosthetics.

The advent of regenerative medicine has resulted in substantial improvements in the lives of patients worldwide through the replacement, repair, or regeneration of damaged tissues and organs. It is a promising solution to challenges such as a lack of organ donors or transplant-related risks. One of the great advances in regenerative medicine is place (or in place) bioprinting, an extension of 3D printing technology, used to synthesize tissues and organs directly inside the human body. It shows great potential in facilitating the repair and regeneration of damaged tissues and organs.

Although significant progress has been made in this area, it is currently in use in place Bioprinting technology is not without limitations. For example, certain devices are only compatible with certain types of bioink, while others can only create a small network patch at a time. In addition, their designs are usually complicated, making them unaffordable and limiting their applications.

In a groundbreaking study published in Biofabrication (“A handheld bioprinter for printing complex construction multi-materials”), a research team consisting of Mr. Erik Pagan and Associate Professor Mohsen Akbari from the University of Victoria in Canada, developed the handheld device in place bioprinter with a convenient modular design, which allows printing of complex biocompatible structures.

“Two decades ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which eventually led to her breast being removed. This greatly affects his well-being. It made me realize that technologies such as hand-held bioprinting could not only help develop personalized implants for breast reconstruction that match the shape and size of patient tissue, but also be used to create tumor models for breast cancer biology studies. Such an application could significantly improve treatment outcomes for affected patients,” said Prof. Akbari when discussing his motivation that underlies this research.

The main feature of this handheld is the presence of several bioink cartridges, each independently controlled by a pneumatic system. Because of this, the device operator has extensive control over the printing mix, making it easier to develop structures with the required properties. Additionally, the device has a cooling module and a light-emitting diode photocuring module, which provide additional control.

This versatile in place bioprinters have several applications. Prof. Akbari explained, “In situ bioprinting is suitable for repairing large defects caused by trauma, surgery, or cancer, which require large-scale tissue construction. In the long term, this technology could eliminate the need for organ donors, while lowering the risks associated with transplants, allowing patients to enjoy longer and healthier lives.”

Another important potential application of this device is the production of drug delivery systems. An operator can construct scaffolds or structures that release precise amounts of drug as well as cells at specific locations in the body. This will make the drug more efficient, minimize the side effects associated with it, and increase safety. The technology reported in this paper could also accelerate the discovery of new drugs by enabling scientists to develop more accurate drug testing models.

What’s more, it has the potential to develop custom prosthetics and orthopedic implants. Due to its portable nature, this bioprinter can help clinicians match patient tissue anatomy with greater accuracy and convenience, thereby increasing the functionality and aesthetics of bioprinted constructions.

The findings of this study could significantly benefit researchers and clinicians dedicated to increasing the scope of regenerative medicine and enabling collaborative research, which could accelerate the further development of this technology. Given this, Prof. Akbari and his team published this research through a transformative agreement between IOP Publishing and the Canadian Research Knowledge Network. This agreement allows authors to publish their work in more than 70 IOP Publishing journals free of charge. These articles are immediately available and free for everyone to access.

“By publishing under a transformative agreement, we are promoting a more sustainable and fair model of scientific publishing that benefits the entire research community. This can overcome the long-standing challenges of access and affordability in academic publishing while also encouraging the growth of scientific knowledge,” said Prof. Akbari.

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