Bioprinting, a form of 3d printing, may be used to fabricate the structures of organs with cells and other biological materials as “inks”. In the future this process may be used to repair damaged tissues, cells, and organs of the human body, even potentially building entire organs from scratch.
Several factors determine whether or not a material can be bioprinted. First, the biological materials must be biocompatible with the materials in the ink and the printer itself. In addition, the mechanical properties of the printed structure, as well as the time it takes for the organ or tissue to mature, also affect the process.
Applications of Bioprinting
Since bioprinting enables the precise construction of biological structures, the technique may find many uses in biomedicine.
Researchers have used bioprinting to introduce cells to help repair the heart after a heart attack as well as deposit cells into damaged skin or cartilage. Bioprinting has also been used to fabricate heart valves for possible use in patients with heart disease, build muscle and bone tissues, and help repair nerves.
Though more research and experimentation is required to determine how these results would perform in a clinical setting, the research shows that bioprinting could be used to help regenerate tissues during surgery or after injury. Bioprinters could, in the future, also enable entire organs like livers or hearts to be made from scratch and used in organ transplants.
The Future of Bioprinting
Although Bioprinting could be used to save many lives, there are still problems that have yet to be addressed. For instance, the printed structures may be weak and unable to retain their shape or remain in the appropriate location in the body.
There is also the fact that human organs are intricate and certain type of organs would be more difficult to replicate accurately through Bioprinting. Existing techniques are also limited to certain types of materials, and are limited in their precision. Each technique has the potential to cause damage to the cells and other materials being printed. These problems will be addressed as researchers continue to develop Bioprinting to tackle increasingly difficult medical problems.