Engineered nanoparticles have the capacity to grab onto toxins, but evacuating them out of the body undisturbed is a challenge since they can get accumulated inside the liver for hepatic metabolism and excretion, creating a risk of secondary poisoning. To overcome this, investigators at the University of California, San Diego designed a new 3D printed device that’s made of a hydrogel embedded with detoxifying nanoparticles, that permanently stay with it.
The polydiacetylene nanoparticles are able to trap toxins and the hydrogel matrix makes sure they stay safely inside the device, until the whole system is removed or disconnected. As a proof of concept, the team ran a solution of pore-forming toxins through the device and showed that its virulence went down to zero after filtration.
More about the technology according to UC San Diego:
“One unique feature of this device is that it turns red when the toxins are captured,” said the co-first author, Xin Qu, who is a postdoctoral researcher working in [Shaochen] Chen’s laboratory. “The concept of using 3D printing to encapsulate functional nanoparticles in a biocompatible hydrogel is novel,” said Chen. “This will inspire many new designs for detoxification techniques since 3D printing allows user-specific or site-specific manufacturing of highly functional products,” Chen said.
Chen’s lab has already demonstrated the ability to print complex 3D microstructures, such as blood vessels, in mere seconds out of soft biocompatible hydrogels that contain living cells.
Chen’s biofabrication technology, called dynamic optical projection stereolithography (DOPsL), can produce the micro- and nanoscale resolution required to print tissues that mimic nature’s fine-grained details, including blood vessels, which are essential for distributing nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. The biofabrication technique uses a computer projection system and precisely controlled micromirrors to shine light on a selected area of a solution containing photo-sensitive biopolymers and cells. This photo-induced solidification process forms one layer of solid structure at a time, but in a continuous fashion.
Study in Nature Communications: Bio-inspired detoxification using 3D-printed hydrogel nanocomposites
Press release: Bioprinting a 3D Liver-Like Device to Detoxify the Blood