While methods of 3D bioprinting vary, most of them have one thing in common – they print cells layer by layer into a desired shape, which is then transferred to an incubator where it further grows and develops. Alternative methods exist, however, that involve the manipulation of the cell material by magnetic fields. The cells are then “labeled” with magnetic nanoparticles. But now a Russian research team has developed a new method of bioprinting that neither prints layer by layer nor uses magnetic labeling. This method could lead to the creation of radiation-sensitive biological constructs and the repair of organs and tissues.
The new method, which involves magnetic levitation research in conditions of microgravity, was conducted by the 3D Bioprinting Solutions company in collaboration with other Russian and foreign scientists, including the Joint Institute for High Temperatures of the Russian Academy of Sciences (JIHT RAS).
“During the period from 2010 to 2017, a series of experimental studies were carried out aboard the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station with the Coulomb Crystal experimental device,” said Mikhail Vasiliev, head of the laboratory of dusty plasma diagnostics in JIHT RAS. “The main element of the device is an electromagnet that creates a special inhomogeneous magnetic field in which the structures of the diamagnetic particles (they are magnetized against the direction of the magnetic field) can be formed in the microgravity conditions.”
The research was documented in a paper entitled “Scaffold-free, label-free and nozzle-free biofabrication technology using magnetic levitational assembly,” which you can access here. In the study, the researchers describe how small charged particles behave in the magnetic field of a special shape under microgravity or zero-gravity conditions. They also developed a mathematical model of this process based on the methods of molecular dynamics. These results explain how to obtain homogeneous and extended three-dimensional structures consisting of thousands of the particles.
Conventional methods of magnetic 3D bioprinting had several limitations associated with gravity. There are a couple of ways to reduce the power of gravitational forces, one being to increase the power of the magnets that control the magnetic field. This will, however, require a much more complex bioprinter. Another way is to reduce the gravity, which is the approach used by the scientists from 3D Bioprinting Solutions. The method is called formative three-dimensional biofactory, which creates three-dimensional biological structures immediately from all sides, rather than in layers.
“The results of the Coulomb crystal experiment on the study of the formation of the spatially ordered structures led to the development of a new method for the formative 3-D biofactory of the tissue-like structures based on the programmable self-assembly of the living tissues and organs under the conditions of gravity and microgravity by means of an inhomogeneous magnetic field,” said Vasiliev.
Bioprinters based on this new technology will be able to create biological constructs that can be used for many purposes, including estimating the adverse effects of space radiation on the health of astronauts on long-term space missions. It should also be able to restore the function of damaged tissues and organs.
Authors of the paper include Vladislav A. Parfenov, Elizaveta V. Koudan, Elena A. Bulanova, Pavel A. Karelkin, Frederico DAS Pereira, Nikita E. Norkin, Alisa D. Knyazeva, Anna A. Gryadunova, Oleg F. Petrov, Mikhail M. Vasiliev, Maxim I. Myasnikov, Valery P. Chernikov, Vladimir A. Kasyanov, Artem Yu Marchenkov, Kenn Brakke, Yusef D. Khesuani, Utkan Demirci, and Vladimir A. Mironov.
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