The medical AM segment is multifaceted, consisting of 3D printed medical devices, anatomical models, prosthetics and more. Within the industry, bioprinting has carved out a prominent position, gaining interest across the board for its huge potentials in drug development and screening, therapeutic treatments and regenerative medicine, to name but a few. While much of the excitement surrounding bioprinting is focused on the future, we want to look at what is happening now in the field that is exciting.
As part of our Medical AM Focus, we asked bioprinting leaders from across the sector what they consider to be the most exciting thing about bioprinting today. In the first of the series, we hear from Swiss bioprinting firm RegenHU.
RegenHU was founded in 2007 with the aim of developing bioprinting solutions to serve the scientific community. Today, the company offers a range of bioprinting products, including the BioFactory and 3DDiscovery Evolution printers, as well as many materials for soft and hard tissue engineering and drug discovery.
The company has also worked with numerous partners across industry and academia, including L’Oréal, the National Institutes of Health, Trinity College Dublin, ETH Zurich and many, many more.
According to RegenHU, 3D bioprinting is progressing thanks to three key areas: the development of reliable and capable 3D bioprinter systems, the creation of new bioink formulations with tunable properties and the development of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) derived cells, which can be programmed to become various types of cell.
“Already, protocols for bone and skin are being developed for clinical application, whilst more complex neuronal and liver tissues progress towards being acceptable tool systems for efficacy and toxicity testing in drug development, with the potential to improve clinical outcomes and patient safety,” the company says.
“The industrialization of human iPSC use, and development of robust differentiation methods to produce functional cell types, such as through bioink supported gene transfer, can enable multicellular organ development post printing. However, a better understanding of the interactions between these cell systems and bioinks is critical to understand the long term function of multicellular systems.”
One of the challenges that still shapes bioprinting research is vascularization—or the ability to print cells with a stable network of blood vessels, which provide the cells with nutrients.
RegenHU explains: “The difficulty producing and maintaining a stable network of blood vessels in larger and more cellular diverse 3D constructs is a limiting factor for the scale up of engineered tissues that is being addressed through new biomaterials that can drive vascularization. Maintaining the unique architecture of complex organs during and after printing is also challenging, however novel bioinks such as graphene-based materials show promise in successfully creating regenerative scaffolds for multiple tissue types including brain.”
“These key stepping stones move us closer to the future creation of whole organs for transplant and the development of therapeutic tissue replacement components, such as heart biopatches with conductive properties for arrhythmia treatment, that will revolutionize regenerative medicine and patient-specific treatment. At regenHU we are excited by these positive developments and are committed to helping our scientific collaborators as we maintain our major influence within this fast growing field.”