Someday soon, knee replacement surgery might begin with a trip to a nearby printer. That’s because researchers from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have demonstrated proof of concept of a printer that can produce three-dimensional cartilage constructs.
This novel bioprinter utilizes two low-cost fabrication techniques to produce a structure that is both durable and biologically active. An electrospinning machine uses an electrical current to generate very fine fibers from a polymer and create a strong, porous structure. Next, a common inkjet printer deposits layers of natural gel and a solution of cartilage cells into the structure. The result is a hybrid synthetic and natural cartilage construct that developed mechanical structures and properties similar to actual cartilage after eight weeks of implantation in mice.
Researchers are optimistic that doctors will soon be able to MRI scan a part of the body and custom-fabricate a cartilage construct to be implanted in patients.
Article from Institute of Physics: Cartilage Made Easy With Novel Hybrid Printer
Journal abstract from Bioscience: Hybrid printing of mechanically and biologically improved constructs for cartilage tissue engineering applications