Terasaki Institute Develops Method to directly 3D Print Living Tissues Inside Patients

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Researchers take a step closer to 3D printing living tissues in patients


Above: 3D lattice structure of a tissue implanted directly onto a soft living tissue/Image Credit: Terasaki Institute

A new collaboration between researchers from Terasaki Institute, Ohio State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and those from the Pennsylvania State University Department of Chemical Engineering, has led to the development of a new type of 3D printing approach that involves the use of a specially-formulated bio-ink designed for printing directly in the body.

The popular approach to 3D printing of body parts such as orthopedic joints and prosthetics, as well as portions of bone, skin and blood vessels involves creation of tissues in an apparatus outside of the body to be surgically implanted later. But such a procedure may involve making large surgical incisions, posing the added risk of infection and increased recovery time for the patient. To prevent these complications, the team of scientists have developed a technology to print tissues directly in the body.

The researchers include namely, Ali Khademhosseini, Ph.D., Director and CEO of the Terasaki Institute, David J Hoelzle, Ph.D., from the Ohio State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Amir Sheikhi, Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University Department of Chemical Engineering

The technique uses a fluid-like “bio-ink” that makes a framework for living cells. As described by first author Ali Asghari Adib, Ph.D., “This bio-ink formulation is 3D printable at physiological temperature, and can be crosslinked safely using visible light inside the body.”

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In order to build the tissue, they used robotic 3D printing, which uses robotic machinery affixed with a nozzle. Bio-ink may be dispensed through the nozzle, much like an icing tube squeezes out writing gel, only in a highly-precise, programmable manner.  The team also worked on methods to attach pieces of the tissue formed with this bio-ink onto soft surfaces. 

According to Khademhosseini, “Developing personalized tissues that can address various injuries and ailments is very important for the future of medicine.  The work presented here addresses an important challenge in making these tissues, as it enables us to deliver the right cells and materials directly to the defect in the operating room.”

The Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation is a non-profit research organization that invents and fosters practical solutions that restore or enhance the health of individuals.

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