Bioprinting is an additive manufacturing technology that makes use of a digital file as a blueprint to print objects layer by layer. As Curtis Cripe points out that unlike traditional 3D printing, bioprinters tend to use cells and biomaterials for the purpose of producing organ-like structures that allow living cells to proliferate. Even though bioprinting is a relatively new technique, it has immense potential in advancing varied fields, ranging from regenerative medicine and personalized healthcare to drug development.
Curtis Cripe discusses some of the major applications of bioprinting in healthcare
Bioprinting basically is a form of 3D printing that can potentially produce anything from bone tissue and blood vessels to living tissues that facilitates distinctive medical applications, such as tissue engineering and drug testing and development. The applications of bioprinting in healthcare are many, including:
- Drug development: A large degree of modern research relies on live subjects. Bioprinted tissue might be used in the preliminary stages instead of live subject, and may prove to be a more ethical and cost-effective solution. By using bioprinted tissue, researchers can effectively determine the efficacy of drug candidates, and save both time and money.
- Artificial organs: Lengthy organ waiting lists may leave helpless patients waiting for years to get a well-suited match. The ability to bioprint organs can aid doctors in meeting the demands of patients in need of organ transplants or may even eliminate the need for transplantation altogether. The advanced bioprint organs solution provides several powerful options in this domain.
- Wound healing: Today varied types of tissue-specific bioinks are available, enabling researchers to work with liver cells, neurons, artificial skin cells and so on. These models, in the future, might be used for therapeutic procedures like bone dressings for war wounds, skin grafts and plastic surgery.
- Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine: Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine present quite considerable challenges in the domain of bioprinting functional organs, specifically in establishing vascular networks by connecting capillaries, veins and arteries. Integration of distinctive cell types for the creation of complex tissue structures with structural and mechanical integrity is not an easy endeavor. However, despite the limitations, considerable progress has been made in bioprinting hollow or thin tissues like blood vessels, as well as tissues like cartilage that do not require vasculature. Tissue spheroids have been created from cardiac cells and human vascular endothelial cells (HUVEC) in order to create bioprinted cardiac tissue. Fabrication of heart valves is another important area of focus in tissue engineering. Heart valves lack regenerative capabilities and hence necessitate replacement with biological or mechanical prostheses upon damage.
- Cancer research: A key drawback of typical 2D tumor models is their limitations when it comes to representing the physiologically relevant environment needed for gaining a better understanding of cancer pathogenesis and metastasis owing to the absence of 3D interactions with neighbouring cells and substrates. Bioprinting provides a valuable platform for investigating cell interactions in a 3D context, thereby enabling clinically relevant observations on cancer pathogenesis and metastasis.
On the whole, as Curtis Cripe mentions, bioprinting has immense potential in healthcare and can significantly contribute to the advancement of this industry.