Heart and brain 3D printed scaffolds are the new gig of bioprinting, with the extraordinary contribution of Carnegie Mellon University researchers.
Adam Feinberg, the biomedical engineer leading the research team at the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, started out with some gelatin and a tweaked printer. Now, in the University’s lab, his team was able to print 3D biological materials. Which means the type of materials that have been giving scientists a headache for a while now. These are difficult to reproduce with the use of a 3D printer, as they often collapse under their own weight.
With the work of Feinberg’s team, this problem has been solved. 3D printing soft body parts such as the brain or heart is now possible. When the process of forming is done, the 3D printed scaffolds won’t collapse under their own weight, stiffening in the protective environment.
The soft materials that are the product of bioprinting are created in a bath of fluid that allows them to support their weight and stiffen. The fluid bath contains gelatin. With the technique called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels, Adam Feinberg explained that:
“We print one gel inside of another gel, which allows us to accurately position the soft material as it’s being printed, layer by layer”.
In addition, medical imaging data is used as the pattern the 3D printer works with for the creation of 3D printed scaffolds. These are constructed of collagen, fibrin and alginate. Alginate is a compound typically found in seaweed, while fibrin is the basis of forming blood clots. All three materials are permissive for the tissue-engineering scaffolds. None of the laboratory 3D printed scaffolds were enriched with live cells. Nonetheless, this is truly a remarkable advancement of bioengineering and bioprinting.
Thus, heart and brain 3D printed scaffolds are the new gig of bioprinting. The results obtained by Finberg’s team have been received with a load of praise. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Winston-Salem and tissue engineer himself, stated:
“I think it’s a very nice strategy that will open up even more avenues for future development and research”.
The soft materials 3D printed scaffolds included a chick hear, a human brain, a human coronary artery, as well as a human femur. These anatomical structures created with bioprinting can be used as a support for the growth of cells and organs used in transplants. Later on, live cells could be directly linked to the soft body parts structures for an added dose of breakthrough scientific research.
The results of the study conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University are published in the Science Advances journal.
Photo Credits: Carnegie Mellon University, Livescience