Newswise — 3D printing live tissues and structures inside the body, known as in situ bioprinting, has made consistent strides in recent years. In a new analysis, scientists created a portable bioprinter that overcomes critical drawbacks found in earlier models, namely the capacity to print diverse substances and manipulate the physical and chemical traits of printed tissues. This innovation will open doors for numerous uses in regenerative medicine, pharmaceutical research, and the creation of tailor-made orthopedic devices and artificial body parts.

The rise of regenerative medicine has led to significant enhancements in global patient well-being by addressing issues like organ donor scarcity and transplantation-related risks. This field holds great promise for replacing, repairing, or regenerating damaged tissues and organs. A notable breakthrough in regenerative medicine is in situ bioprinting, an extension of 3D printing technology that enables the on-site synthesis of tissues and organs directly inside the human body. This innovative approach holds tremendous potential in facilitating the restoration and rejuvenation of impaired tissues and organs.

Despite notable advancements in this domain, existing in situ bioprinting technologies are not exempt from limitations. For instance, certain devices are limited to specific types of bioink compatibility, and others are capable of producing only small tissue patches at a time. Furthermore, the complexity of their designs often renders them expensive, limiting their potential applications.

In a groundbreaking research publication in Biofabrication, Mr. Erik Pagan and Associate Professor Mohsen Akbari, affiliated with the University of Victoria in Canada, unveiled a handheld in situ bioprinter featuring a user-friendly modular design. This innovative device enables the printing of intricate biocompatible structures. Prof. Akbari shared his personal inspiration behind this study, reflecting on his mother's battle with breast cancer, which ultimately resulted in the removal of her breast. Recognizing the profound impact on her well-being, he realized the potential of handheld bioprinting technology to develop personalized breast reconstruction implants that accurately match the size and shape of the patient's tissue. Additionally, the technology could be utilized in creating tumor models for studying breast cancer biology. These applications hold significant promise for enhancing treatment outcomes for affected individuals.

An essential aspect of the portable device is its inclusion of multiple bioink cartridges, each operated independently through a pneumatic system. This feature grants the device operator significant control over the printing mixture, simplifying the process of creating structures with desired properties. Furthermore, the device incorporates a cooling module and a light-emitting diode photocuring module, offering additional control over the printing process.

The versatile in situ bioprinter has a wide range of applications. Prof. Akbari emphasizes its suitability for repairing significant defects resulting from trauma, surgical procedures, or cancer, which often necessitate the creation of large-scale tissue constructs. Looking ahead, this technology holds the potential to alleviate the demand for organ donors while reducing the risks associated with transplantation. Consequently, patients could experience improved quality of life, enjoying longer and healthier lives.

Another significant potential application of this device is its use in the production of drug delivery systems. The operator would have the capability to fabricate scaffolds or structures designed to release precise quantities of drugs and cells at specific locations within the body. This approach could enhance drug efficacy, minimize associated side effects, and improve overall safety. Furthermore, the technology described in the research paper has the potential to expedite the discovery of new drugs by enabling scientists to develop more accurate and reliable drug testing models.


Journal Link: Biofabrication