Researchers from Belgium, China, and the US have come together to study 3D bioprinting, working to expand noninvasive, in vivo applications further. Releasing the findings of their study in the recently published ‘Noninvasive in vivo 3D bioprinting,’ the scientists are concerned with finding better ways to treat patients without causing additional trauma during regenerative practices, surgical implantation, and plastic surgery.
The scientists chose near-infrared (NIR) light technology for this project, due to its versatility (used in drug release systems, photodynamic therapy, photothermal therapy, in vivo imaging, 3D imaging, and more) and the ability to prompt photopolymerization. Hoping to open a new avenue in 3D printing, the researchers created a noninvasive 3D printing system, bioprinting directly into tissue constructs without surgical implantation.
The new process is centered around digital near infrared (NIR) photopolymerization (DNP)–based 3D printing technology, featuring patterned light that is able to penetrate through skin—thus causing subcutaneous injection of the cell solution.
The researchers began by assessing the process in vitro:
“Because of the excellent capacity of supporting cells for survival or proliferation, biocompatible hydrogels are commonly used as the matrix materials for bioprinting. Here, we found that the DNP process could fast print the GelMA-derived hydrogel obstacles by a layer-by-layer manner, and the time of printing a 200-mm-thick layer is about 15 s. Then, the capacity of the DNP process in 3D printing of complex hydrogel constructs was evaluated.”
Subsequently, the team was able to print three-ring structures at decreasing widths—from 200 to 100 mm. A variety of other complex geometries were fabricated ex vivo, as well, demonstrating the necessary precision.
Using both pig tissue and mice skin, the researchers were able to imitate noninvasive in vivo 3D bioprinting. Circular structures were created, and the team noted that the use of either the skin or tissue did not cause any changes to the print quality, with further calculations and measurements showing success in terms of using DNP for noninvasive bioprinting; in fact, they showed that in one or seven days after printing, tissues were free of ‘significant inflammation’ or abnormalities.
“This indicates that the DNP-based noninvasive bioprinting process did not cause obvious side effect in situ,” stated the researchers.
As they continued evaluations, they 3D printed a variety of samples, to include a triangle, cross, and ‘cake-like hydrogel constructs.’
In printing a customized ear-shaped tissue structure, the researchers realized success—and potential for future treatment of auricle defects or microtia.
“Meanwhile, the noninvasively printed conformal ASC-laden scaffold can promote the healing of the muscle defects, showing potential clinical application. Therefore, the demonstrated noninvasive in vivo 3D bioprinting technology could provide a novel tool to advance the minimally invasive or noninvasive medicine, showing potential clinical applications,” concluded the researchers.
What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.[Source / Images: ‘Noninvasive in vivo 3D bioprinting’]
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