Scientists develop bio-ink for 3D printing with stem cells

Jun 27, 2016 15:14 IST

Bio-inkA 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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