Bio−ink makes printing live tissues possible

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 19, 2012 10:10 hrs

Sydney, Nov 19 (IANS) Australian scientists have edged closer to printing live tissue replacements into 3D structures for diseased or damaged body parts using inkjet printers, thanks to the development of specialised bio−ink.

Researchers have been aware of the potential for using commercially available inkjet printer heads to print living human cells into 3D structures, but design of the actual ink capable of carrying cells through the printer has been a challenge.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), University of Wollongong led a team of scientists to develop a new bio−ink that improves the viability of living cells, the journal Biomaterials Science reports.

"To date, none of the available inks has been optimised in terms of both printability and cell suspending ability. Our new bio−ink is printable and cell−friendly, preventing cell settling and allowing controlled deposition of cells," according to ACES associate researcher Cameron Ferris.

The 2D structures being printed with the bio−ink presents exciting opportunities to improve drug screening and toxicology testing processes, according to a Wollongong statement.

Building on this, 3D bio−printing, with which patient−specific tissue replacements could be fabricated, is within the grasp of researchers.

"The development of chemistries that enable fabrication protocols not only takes us closer to practical devices but gives us experimental protocols that allows previously unexplored areas of fundamental science to be explored," said ACES director and professor, Gordon Wallace.

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