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Terasaki Institute: Directly Printing 3D Tissues Within the Body

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

LOS ANGELES, June 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In the TV series Westworld, human body parts are built on robotic frames using 3D printers.  While still far from this scenario, 3D printers are being increasingly used in medicine.  For example, 3D printing can be used to produce parts of the body such as orthopedic joints and prosthetics, as well as portions of bone, skin and blood vessels.  However, the majority of these tissues are created in an apparatus outside of the body and surgically implanted.  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, a team of scientists have developed a technology to print tissues directly in the body.

A collaboration among 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, has produced a specially-formulated bio-ink designed for printing directly in the body. 

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

"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," said Khademhosseini.

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

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SOURCE Terasaki Institute