3D-printed scaffolds allow for direct tissue regeneration

Researchers have developed 3D-printed scaffolds that allow for the inclusion of cell layers which encourage tissue growth, producing an implant that could be placed directly into a patient requiring tissue regeneration.

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Feb 11, 2020
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Researchers from Rice University (TX, USA) have successfully 3D printed scaffolds that allow for the inclusion of layered living cells, encouraging tissue growth. This provides the potential for manufacturing distinct combinations of tissues such as cartilage. 

The teams hopes that the findings of this study, published in Bioprinting, could lead to applications with patients where tissue regeneration is needed to heal injuries.

The unique ability for the 3D printer to ‘cut grooves’ into the thermoplastic material allows for the safe and immediate placement cells into the structure at a suitable temperature. 

A three-dimensional implant can therefore be manufactured based on medical images of a patient quickly and efficiently. Current methods involve higher temperatures and shear stresses that often kill cells in the process of introducing them into scaffolds. 


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The additional advantage of these new implants is that due to them being hard and robust, they could be surgically inserted into patients to potentially heal bone, cartilage or muscle damage. This is not the case with current scaffolds fabricated from cell-supporting hydrogels.

However, like hydrogels, the new implants are also biocompatible, meaning that they are able to degrade over time and leave behind new and natural tissue. 

Antonios Mikos, Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University, commented:

The major innovation here is our ability to spatially load a scaffold that is 3D printed with different cell populations and with different bioactive molecules. If we wanted different cell populations at different points in the scaffold, we could not do that. Now we can." 

Discussing the potential for a wide variety of different applications of the scaffolds, Mikos continued: 

We can also load different growth factors on different levels. Very high temperatures would deactivate them, but here we can deposit growth factor-loaded microparticles inside the grooves as they cool. That would preserve the bioactivity of the molecule.”

Sources: Diaz-Gomez L, Elizondo ME,  Koons GL et al. Fiber engraving for bioink bioprinting within 3D printed tissue engineering scaffolds. Bioprinting 18, e00076 (2020); https://news.rice.edu/2020/02/04/grooves-hold-promise-for-sophisticated-healing-2/

Go to the profile of Daniel Barrett

Daniel Barrett

Commissioning Editor, Journal of 3D Printing in Medicine, Future Medicine

I am the Commissioning Editor for 3DMedNet's partner publication, the Journal of 3D Printing in Medicine. if you have any questions or enquiries about submitting to the journal, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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