Scientists at the University of Oxford have created a new method to 3D print laboratory-grown cells to form living structures.
This development has the potential to produce complex tissues and cartilage that could repair damaged parts of the body. Oxford Synthetic Biology (OxSyBio), a spin out from the University, are hoping that this development could revolutionise regenerative medicine.
Lead author of the study, Dr Alexander Graham, from OxSyBio, said: “To date, there are limited examples of printed tissues, which have the complex cellular architecture of native tissues. Hence, we focused on designing a high-resolution cell printing platform, from relatively inexpensive components, that could be used to reproduce artificial tissues with appropriate complexity from a range of cells including stem cells.”
3D printing living tissue techniques have struggled with the accuracy of cellular positioning. Cells often move within their printed structures, which means the supporting areas collapse. However, Dr Graham and his team have devised a method that allows the support structures to keep their shape.
The printed cells were encased with protective nanoliter droplets wrapped in a lipid coating that can be assembled, a layer at a time, into living structures, this increases the likelihood of cell survival.
Chief Technology Officer at OxSyBio, Dr Sam Olof said: “There are many potential applications for bioprinting and we believe it will be possible to create personalised treatments by using cells sourced from patients to mimic or enhance natural tissue function. In the future, 3D bio-printed tissues may be also used for diagnostic applications – for example, for drug or toxin screening.”
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