A group of scientists at the University of Bristol developed a new stem cell-containing bio-ink that allows 3D printing of complex living tissues.
The new stem cell-containing bio ink allows 3D printing of living tissues, known as bio-printing.
The team's findings were featured in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.
Key highlights of the technique
• The bio-ink used contains a natural polymer from seaweed and a sacrificial synthetic polymer used in the medical industry.
• The seaweed polymer offers structural support when cell nutrients are introduced.
• The synthetic polymer changes the bio-ink from a liquid to a solid as temperature is raised.
• The special bio-ink formulation was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3-D printer as a liquid that transformed to a gel at 37°C. The formulation allows construction of complex living 3-D architectures.
• Stem cells were differentiated into osteoblasts and chondrocytes.
• Osteoblasts are cells that secrete bone substance and chondrocytes are cells that have secreted the matrix of cartilage and are then embedded in it.
• With that, tissue structures including a tracheal cartilage ring were 3-D printed over 5 weeks.
• 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.
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