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Biologics Feature

Courtesy of CELLINK

3D Printed Cells Survive in Living Bodies

Biloine W. Young • Wed, April 5th, 2017

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It is happening slowly but surely as scientists are demonstrating they can 3D print tissues or organs and successfully implant them in a living human being.

According to Clare Scott, a writer for 3D Print Board.com, it is now possible to 3D print tissue that can survive and grow within animals. Blood vessels have been printed and implanted into rhesus monkeys and in mice. Two Swedish universities have gotten 3D printed human cartilage cells to survive and grow inside an animal.

Paul Gatenholm,, Ph.D., a professor of biopolymer technology at Chalmers University of Technology in Gotenburg, Sweden, adjunct professor of biomaterial engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, and the co-founder of CELLINK, used a CELLINK bioprinter to 3D print a construct formed from hydrogel mixed with human cartilage cells. The construct was immediately implanted in mice.

Not only did the cartilage tissue survive and grow, it vascularized, formed its own blood vessels.

The fact that it was implanted into the mice immediately after printing was significant. In previous studies researchers had grown the cartilage for a time in the lab before implanting it. Lars Kölby, M.D., Ph.D., senior lecturer at Sahlgrenska Academy and specialist consultant with the Department of Plastic Surgery at Sahlgrenska University Hospital described the formation of structures in bioprinted tissue.

“What we see after 60 days is something that begins to resemble cartilage. It is white and the human cartilage cells are alive and producing what they are supposed to,” he said. “We have also been able to stimulate the cartilage cells by adding stem cells, which clearly promoted further cell division.”

According to Kölby, much of the project’s success is due to the collaboration between scientists of different disciplines.

“Often, it is like this: we clinicians work with problems and researchers work with solutions,” he said. “If we can come together, there is a chance of actually solving some of the problems we are wrestling with—and in this way, patients benefit from the research.”

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