3D bioprinting technology will be used to remove cancer cells

July 11, 2023

(Nanowerk News) Through joint research with the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM), the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), an institute under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Science and ICT, developed 3D bioprinting technology using natural killer cells (NK cells) as a new method immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer, and announced the results of research in Biomaterials Research (“NK cells packaged in micro/macropore forming hydrogels via 3D bioprinting for tumor immunotherapy”).

Natural killer (NK) cells are leukocytes that respond to the formation of viruses and tumor cells, and selectively kill cells that are harmful to the human body. NK cells eliminate stressed cells that have been infected internally, not viruses that have infiltrated from the outside. Schematic illustration of micro/macro forming hydrogels with NK cells fabricated by 3D bioprinting and implanted into tumor sites. (Image: KIMM)

Allowing the 3D printed hydrogel to encapsulate NK cells helps prevent loss of NK cells and allows most of them to enter into tumor cells. Pores are formed in the hydrogel, and the NK cells that maintain cell viability are released after a certain period of time, which enables the performance of the immune function.

Although NK cells are commonly used for immunotherapy, the method of injecting NK cells via intravenous injection has not shown effective results in clinical trials on solid tumors. This is because NK cells are unable to maintain an appropriate level of viability and fail to target solid tumors.

On the other hand, using newly developed technology, NK cells can be injected into hydrogels, printed, and then cultured in a 3D environment, which enhances cell viability and NK cell activity and enables them to encounter cancerous tissue. The figure shows the hydrogel preparation that enhances NK cell viability The figure shows the hydrogel preparation that enhances NK cell viability. (Image: KIMM)

Lead Researcher Su A Park of KIMM was quoted as saying, “This technology can help significantly improve the function of NK cells used for cancer treatment. We look forward to contributing to the treatment of cancer patients through this newly developed technology.”

This research was carried out with the support of the project for “Development of multiscale-vasculature skin composite tissue for evaluation of nano-bio-sensor implants” sponsored by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea National Research Foundation, and the project for “development of the UnTACT system for critical illness” which was carried out by the Convergence Research Center of the National Science and Technology Research Council.

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