It is widely accepted that technology is rapidly increasing with constant innovations and discoveries. 3D printing is one of the recent innovations that have influenced various fields. It has helped in making the process of producing material an easy task. Any object is easy to be prepared, with the help of a 3D printer. A team of scientists have recently discovered bio- ink that prints stem cells.
The was published in Advanced Healthcare Materials. It is the scientists of the University of Bristol, that discovered bio- ink. They believe that bio- ink allows the production of complex biological tissues for surgical implants. It is the new stem cell that has been identified makes bio- ink a possibility. The stem cells themselves contain the bio- ink that make bioprinting a reality.
The bio- ink is composed of two different polymer components: a natural polymer extracted from seaweed, and a sacrificial synthetic polymer used in the medical industry. Both the components play and equal and crucial role in bioprinting.
The synthetic polymer ensures the bio- ink change from liquid state to solid form, as the temperature raises. The seaweed polymer provides structural support when the cell nutrients are introduced.
Dr Adam Perriman, lead researcher from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, stated, “Designing the new bio-ink was extremely challenging. You need a material that is printable, strong enough to maintain its shape when immersed in nutrients, and that is not harmful to the cells. We managed to do this, but there was a lot of trial and error before we cracked the final formulation.”
Dr Perriman further added, “The special bio-ink formulation was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3D printer, as a liquid that transformed to a gel at 37°C, which allowed construction of complex living 3D architectures.”
The team during their study were able to differentiate stem cells into osteoblasts .Osteoblasts are cells that secretes a part of bone cells that further secretes the mixture of cartilage and thereby gets embedded with bone cells. This enables 3D printing of tissue structures possible.
Dr Perriman concerning the study performed stated, “What was really astonishing for us was 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.”