Newly designed “bioink” get us one step closer to 3D printed organs

3D bioprinted small airways made out of two cell types (blue and yellow) remain open over time.

3D printing technology has revolutionized the way we think about creating things with complex designs with the simple click of a button. The ability to be able to give a computer a specific set of instructions and hit “print” is appealing in this modern era of instant gratification and convenience. In the regenerative medicine field, there has been a specific interest in using this type of technology to create vital organs for transplants, something that would be extremely helpful to those anxiously waiting for a donor.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have gotten one step closer to making 3D organ printing a reality by designing a new type of “bioink” which allows small human-sized airways to be 3D-bioprinted using patient cells for the first time. For this project, the researchers focused on the lungs but the proof of concept could be applicable to other types of organs.

Like many other debilitating conditions, there is no cure for chronic lung disease and the only end-stage option for patients is lung transplantation. However, there are not enough donor lungs to meet clinical demand.

The researchers first designed a new type of “bioink”, which is a printable material made with cells. The “bioink” was made by combining materials made from seaweed, alginate, and an extracellular matrix made from lung tissue. The “bioink” is important because it supports the bioprinted material over several stages of its development towards tissue. The researchers used it to 3D-bioprint small human airways containing two types of cells found in human airways.

Blood vessel infiltration in the 3D bioprinted constructs.

The team then used a mouse model closely resembling the immunosuppression used in patients undergoing organ transplantation and transplanted the newly created cells inside the mice. What they found was remarkable in that the 3D-printed airways made from the new “bioink” were well-tolerated and supported new blood vessels.

Although more work needs to be done in order to perfect this technique, these results provide a pivotal step forward in one day making bioprinting organs a reality.

In a press release, Dr. Darcy Wagner, senior author of this study, expresses optimism about their findings.

“We hope that further technological improvements of available 3D printers and further ‘bioink’ advances will allow for bioprinting at a higher resolution in order to engineer larger tissues which could be used for transplantation in the future.”

The full results of this study were published in Advanced Materials.

2 thoughts on “Newly designed “bioink” get us one step closer to 3D printed organs

  1. This is phenomenal and so timely! My niece just had an unexpected surprise when her baby was diagnosed only a couple days after birth with hypodysplastic left ventricle syndrome. I was just thinking TODAY that his own stem cells might be able to be used one day soon to build him a complete heart for transplant without any organ rejection. May this work be blessed with perfect … and quick.. results!

  2. The research on designing a new bionic which allows small human- sized airway to be 3D-bioprinted with the patient’s own cells.

    The stem cells of patient or derived from iPSCs technology can be used for repairing the tissues and organs. Stem cells require growth factors for growth and differentiation. They require multiple growth factors for many stages of maturation to produce mature and functioning cells. However, in each stage of maturation, progenitors response to different specific growth factor for growth and differentiation. The intracellular matrix in tissues and organs are enriched with a variety of growth factors to support progenitor cells to develop into mature cells. Other sources of growth factors can be obtained from serum and secretion of cells. In some circumstances, the body lose of ability to produce certain growth factors, additional of exogenous factors are essential. Therefore, the requirement of specific growth factors for development of cells may support several stages of tissue development into multiple cell types. It can be concluded that all cell types in both animals and humans require growth factors and hormones for survival, proliferation, differentiation and behavior. Different cell types produce different levels and type of growth factor receptors to trigger the intracellular signaling for specific functioning. Therefore, growth factors play pivotal roles in the activities and development of premature and mature cells in tissues and organs of living organisms.

    Stem cells or iPSCs are moveable, tissue and organ require stem cells for repairing. Thus, seaweed and algae represent a good cultivation system for cells attachment to the site of injury. The materials provide an important physical-chemical properties and texture for cells colonization and long-term attachment of growing cells.

    3D-printed constructs are biocompatible and support the new blood vessels growing after transplantation into mouse. Most of the importance angiogenic growth factors to support vascularization of blood vessels are largely unknown. Thus, the invivo of animals and humans provide an important sources of growth factors for forming of blood vessels.

    To note that, 3D-printed construct requires to seed into original site of tissues and organs. Evidence proved that implantation of human kidney stem cells into mouse model resulted in growing of chimeric kidney structure which was entirely different humans.

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