Bioprinting-Science Ambassador Scholarship


Over the past few decades we have seen
an incredible explosion of items made from 3d printing everything from musical
instruments to rocket parts to innovative prostheses. But what if we could
take this exciting new technology and push its limits to the impossible? What
if instead of printing prostheses we could print an entire new leg or new
lungs or a new heart? Turns out this too is now becoming a reality, and it’s called…
Bioprinting! So what exactly is bio printing? Bioprinting is an additive
manufacturing process in which bio- materials are combined to create tissue
like structures that imitate real tissue. Let’s take a closer look at the process: First a CT
scan or MRI is taken of the organ to be replicated. These images are then
reconstructed and uploaded to the printer’s database. Next a biopsy, a sample
of tissue, will be taken from the patient and the resultant cells will be prepared
for printing. Then comes the actual printing process. There are three main
types of bio printing: inkjet, where each cell is individually deposited. Laser-assisted, which is like inkjet but much more accurate but also more
expensive. And the most common which is extrusion printing. In this video I will
focus on extrusion printing which closely resembles regular 3d fuel deposition modelling printing in which the material to be printed is deposited layer by layer. The material used in bioprinting is call Bioink. Bioink is composed of the actual cells that woill
grow to form the organ and a biopolymer hydrogel which retains water, like jello,
and contains usually scaffolding material like extracellular matrix and
other growth factors and proteins. Bioink must be able to go from solid to
liquid so that it can easily pass through the nozzle. This can be achieved
through heat or shear thinning Bioink must be sturdy enough to support cells
but flexible enough to allow for cell division and cellular processes. Finally
after the organ or tissue is printed, mechanical and chemical simulation of
printed parts occurs to create the right environment for cells to grow in. Why is
bio printing important? Bioprinting has opened up multiple doors of possibility
for the field of regenerative medicine. 20 people die every day waiting for a
transplant. Making 3d organs from a patient’s own cells eliminates the
complications of organ rejection and lifelong immunosuppressive regimens. While organ replacement is the ultimate goal of bioprinting, in the meantime other
uses like skin grafts for burn victims, tissue patches for organs,
and using printed sample organs or tissues for drug testing and clinical
trials, which would reduce the need for animal testing, are incredibly important.
Of course we’re still a ways off from real functioning organs.
There are several concerns as to whether or not the organs would be durable
enough to survive within the body, let alone function properly. But bio
printing is a rapidly growing field with lots of potential and new discoveries
popping up every single day. Just this past April, a team of Israeli researchers
created the world’s first 3d printed heart, rabbit-sized! I guess you could say: bioprinting… one big step for printers, one giant leap for regenerative medicine!