It is now possible to 3D-print cells for producing tendons, ligaments, and other human tissues. Biomedical engineers from the University of Utah have shown how the technology can be used to produce human tissues, which could be a significant contribution to patient recovery. The research has been published in the Journal of Tissue Engineering, Part C: Methods in a new paper. According to the study, new replacement tissue for severely damaged ruptured disc, tendon, or ligament can be printed and eventually implanted in the damaged area. This cancels the need for harvesting tissues from other sites or additional surgical operations to receive replacement tissues.
Special Printhead Developed for 3D Printer to Lay Down Human Cells in Controlled Manner
Robby Bowles, biomedical engineering assistant professor at the University of Utah said that the 3D-printing method can help create cell organizations and patterns in a very controlled manner unlike previous technologies. 3D-printing allows to place cells specifically where required. In order to achieve this, Bowles shared office with microfluidic devices for medicine developer, Carterra, Inc. A special printhead was developed by Bowles’ team that upgraded a Carterra 3D printer normally used for printing antibodies for cancer screening applications. With a view to visualize the final product and prove the concept, genetically-modified cells glowing a fluorescent color were printed out.
According to Bowles, the 3D-printing technique can be used in any tissue engineering application and also for 3D printing whole organs. It can solve the problem of 3D printing complicated structures such as spinal discs that have bony interfaces requiring recreation for their successful transplantation.