Aug 10, 2017 | By Tess

Researchers working for the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) at the University of Florida have been busy with a number of different projects, all of which are centered on advancing and invigorating bio-manufacturing in the United States.

Unsurprisingly, 3D printing technologies have come to play an increasingly important role within the walls of ARMI’s high-tech Florida facility, as the engineers, scientists, and medical researchers have been exploring a number of bio applications for additive manufacturing.

As one researcher, a PhD student named Christopher O’Bryan, explained to local press, he and his team are using are using the technology to print intricate silicone structures inside a micro-gel support bath. The latter, which was invented at ARMI, consists of a liquid bath made up of various salts that help to stabilize the liquid silicone as it is printed.

3D printed tubing made using silicone and ARMI's micro-gel support bath

Only when the 3D printed structure is cured under UV light does the complex part solidify. O’Bryan says this 3D printing method can be used to create various biomedical parts and tools, including tubing that could have applications in manufacturing implants, and complex lattices, which could be used for various purposes.

3D printing will also be used to create micro-tissues embedded with 3D printed layers of human cancer cells. Called “tumeroids,” the innovative project could enable doctors to test drugs and treatment processes on a specific patient’s cancer cells.

A silicone lattice is 3D printed inside the micro-gel support bath

“That’s definitely one of our goals, to take cells out of a patient, expand them, print them into micro-tissues and then test the response of those micro-tissues to drugs” explained Dr. Angelini, who is working on the tumeroids research.

The ability to easily test a patient’s cancer cells’ response to treatments such as chemo, immunotherapy, and even experimental drugs could not only help to better treat patients, but could also lead to more jobs in the field.

As he explains, the goal of the research is to ultimately have these 3D printed micro-tissues packaged and sent out to various companies and medical institutes throughout the U.S. for the development and testing of new cancer treatment drugs. This could ultimately improve targeted cancer therapies.

3D bioprinted tumeroids inside a micro-tissue structure

(Images: Screenshot Fox 13 news video)

Another bonus, Angelini adds, is that having bioprinted micro-tissues and human cancer cells would reduce the need for animal testing and experiments within the medical field.

ARMI, which is headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire (but has its Southeastern hub at the University of Florida), is a key part of the Department of Defense’s efforts to revitalize the manufacturing industry within the United States.

ARMI is the 12th Manufacturing USA Institute, and consists of almost one hundred partners from government, industry, academia, and the non-profit sector, all of which are working together to advance and accelerate biomanufacturing processes and technologies.

Earlier this year, ARMI announced it would be receiving nearly $300 million in funding from both federal and private investments.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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