In Brief Scientists have made a new ‘bioink’ that could change the way we create prosthetics and replace damaged cartilage.
At a meeting today of the American Chemical Society, a team of researchers at Sweden’s Wallenberg Wood Science Center noted that they have devised a means of 3D bioprinting cartilage by using an “Ink” composed of human cells.
“Our team’s interest is in working with plastic surgeons to create cartilage to repair damage from injuries or cancer. We work with the ear and the nose, which are parts of the body that surgeons today have a hard time repairing. But hopefully, they’ll one day be able to fix them with a 3-D printer and a bioink made out of a patient’s own cells.”
To create the bioink, Gatenholm’s team essentially had to start from scratch and learn how to manufacture an ink of human cells that wouldn’t simply collapse into a gelatinous mess once printed.
The result was a malleable ink of cells that could be printed in any desired shape and, most importantly, retain that shape with its internal “Skeleton” of fibrils. So the team grafted the printed tissues on mice, and they found that the grafts held and managed to produce cartilage.
In order to boost the production of new cells, the researchers stirred in some human mesenchymal stem cells; it’s a proven method, since stem cells seem to accelerate the propagation of primary cells.