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3D Printing Cartilage in Clinical Testing

Erin Tallman
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Never a dull moment in the 3D printing and bioprinting field, scientists are moving forward on cell-friendly bioinks.

On board for discussion during the 3D Medical Expo at MECC in Maastricht, The Netherlands in late January: cartilage regeneration and biomimetic scaffolds.

“It’s still in its early stages,” Dr. Marcy Zenobi-Wong said in an interview with MedicalExpo during the event. She leads the Cartilage Engineering + Regeneration research team at ETH Zurich, one of the leading technical universities in the world.

During her presentation, “BioPrinting Cartilage,” she spoke of “bioinks based on regulatory-compliant polysaccharides being developed which undergo cell-friendly gelation and yield a strong, ductile material.” They’re now making bioinks more tissue-specific and bioactive by adding micronized extracellular matrix particles to the mix.

The bioink supports proliferation and deposition of matrix proteins. This versatile bioprinting method can produce patient-specific cartilage grafts with good mechanical and biological properties.

Mixing Cells with Bioink

“We’re working on facial reconstruction,” Zenobi-Wong explained her team’s current research on bioprint solutions for those missing a part of their ear or nose from trauma or cancer. The steps begin with a biopsy of the patient’s tissue.

You need to start with cells from the patient. Isolate the cells from the biopsy, put them in culture in order to have a large number and then mix them with, what we call, bioink. The shape would be based on the CT.

Her team is moving forward on a bioprint solution for microtia which would “replace surgical procedures.” They also founded the company CellSpring which develops 3D printed microtissues for drug screening.

Courtesy of ETH Zurich
Courtesy of ETH Zurich

Courtesy of ETH Zurich

3D-Bioplotter® Scaffolding

Courtesy of 3D Printer

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