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Biologics Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Андрей Ильин

India Boasts Bioprinting Breakthrough

Biloine W. Young • Wed, June 7th, 2017

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A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi has succeeded in developing bioprinted cartilage. This development is the first time that a bioprinted tissue has been created in an India-based lab.

The bioink, developed by Sourabh Ghosh, Ph.D., from the Department of Textile Technology at IIT, contains a high concentration of bone marrow, derived from cartilage stem cells, as well as silk proteins.

According to the research team, the 3D printable bioink was designed to not only support cell growth, but also to ensure the long-term survival of the cells.

“The silk protein used has different amino acids that closely resemble the amino acids present in human tissues," explained Ghosh. "Just like cells are surrounded by proteins inside our body, the cells in the engineered cartilage are also surrounded by bioink that has a similar composition.”

A recent test showed that the 3D bioprinted cartilage was able to remain physically stable for up to six weeks.

Despite Ghosh’s progress in his research, problems remain.

As he explained, within the field of bioprinting, knees are an important subject because the articular cartilage that surrounds and protects knees can be easily damaged and is currently difficult (if not impossible) to repair. He reports that the load-bearing capacity of natural knee cartilage has yet to be replicated in a lab, as current lab-made cartilages (called transient cartilage) eventually turn into brittle bone cells.

Ghosh appears to have come close to solving that problem. The team has figured out a way to transform the cartilage stem cells in the bioink into chondrocyte-like cells, which produce and maintain the extracellular matrix of cartilage. “The silk protein has different amino acids that closely resemble the amino acids present in human tissues," explained Ghosh.

Ghosh says the next step in the research will be to implant the 3D bioprinted cartilage into animal knee joints to see if the cells remain stable and the cartilage can “integrate with the surrounding cartilage tissue.”

“We have succeeded in stopping this conversion of chondrocyte-like cells or stem cells into bone cells so that they remain as stable articular cartilage,” said Ghosh. He says that this was achieved by optimizing the bioink’s silk-gelatin composition as well as the bioprinting process itself.

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