A ceramic-based ink could one day allow surgeons to 3D bone printing parts completely with living cells, claim scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney.
Using a 3D bone printing machine that deploys an ink made up of calcium phosphate, the scientists developed a new technique called ceramic omnidirectional bioprinting in cell suspensions (COBICS), which enable them to print bone-like structures that harden in minutes when positioned in the water.
Bioprinting micro-robot holds promise for internal tissue repairs
3D bone printing machine-mimicking structures are not new, but this is the first time such material can be created at room temperature – complete with living cells – and without harsh chemicals or radiation, said Dr. Iman Roohani from UNSW’s School of Chemistry.
“This unique 3D bone printing technology can produce structures that closely mimic bone tissue, ” he said in a statement. “It could be used in clinical applications where there is a big demand for repair of bone defects such as those caused by trauma, cancer, or where a large chunk of tissue is resected. ”
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Associate Professor Kristopher Kilian, who co-developed the breakthrough technology, said the fact that living cells can be part of the 3D-printed structure, together with its portability, make it a large advance on current technology.
Until now, making a piece of bone-like material to repair bone tissue involves first going into a laboratory to fabricate the structures using high-temperature furnaces and toxic chemicals.
“This produces a dry material that is then brought into a clinical setting or in a laboratory, where they wash it profusely and then add living cells to it, ” said A/Prof. Kilian. “The cool thing about our 3D bone printing technique is you can just extrude it directly into a place where there are cells, like a cavity in a patient’s bone. We can go directly into the bone where there are cells, blood vessels, and fat, and a printed bone-like structure that already contains living cells, right in that area.
“There are currently no technologies that can do that directly. ” In a research paper published in Advanced Functional Materials, the authors describe how they developed the special ink in a microgel matrix with living cells.
“The ink takes advantage of a setting mechanism through the neighborhood nano crystallisation of the components in aqueous environments, converting the inorganic ink to mechanically interlocked bone apatite nanocrystals, ” said Dr. Roohani.
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“In other words, the 3D printing bone technique forms a structure that is chemically similar to bone-building blocks. The particular ink is developed in such a way that the conversion is quick, non-toxic in a biological environment and it only starts when ink is exposed to the body fluids, providing ample working time for the end-user, for instance, cosmetic surgeons. ”
Once the 3D bone printing machine ink is coupled with a collagenous substance that contains living cells, it permits in-situ manufacture of bone-like tissue which may be well suited for bone tissue engineering applications, disease modeling, drug verification, and in-situ renovation of bone and osteochondral defects.
Following steps include execution of Vivo checks in animal models to see if the living tissues in the bone construct, carry on and develop after being incorporated in existing bone tissue.