Aug 31, 2017 | By Tess

A scientist from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia is conducting research that could take us one step closer to 3D bioprinted human tissue for implantation and regeneration.

The project, being led by PhD student Lilith Caballero Aguilar, involves developing a method to control how quickly and regularly growth factors are released, which is crucial to the development and survival  of implanted stem cells.

In other words, when a 3D bioprinted stem cell structure is implanted, it can take up to six weeks for the stem cells to transform into the specific type of cell they are intended to be (cartilage, for example). In order for the stem cells to transform, they require the slow release of growth factors.

To achieve this, Caballero Aguilar is working on developing polymer materials that could be used as release mechanisms for the growth factors. She is reportedly using an emulsion process of rapidly shaking water and oil to generate tiny “microspheres” in the solution, which can then be crosslinked to create a material suitable for holding the growth factors.

The research is being conducted by Caballero Aguilar in partnership with members of BioFab3D@ACMD, the first bioengineering facility to operate within an Australian hospital.

The facility is also notable as it was brought into being through a collaboration between the Swinburne University of Technology, RMIT, the University of Melbourne, the University of Wollongong, and St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, where the lab is located.

In the context of the lab, Caballero Aguilar is able to work closely with orthopedic surgeons and muscle specialists from the hospital to advance her research in a practical way.

“Without this space, Lilith’s project would be a much smaller project without the translation benefit,” explains Simon Moulton, a Professor of Biomedical Electromaterials Science and Caballero Aguilar’s supervisor.

“It still would be great research done at a very high level, she would have publications and be able to graduate, but working in this collaborative environment, she can achieve all of that, while also having her research go into a clinical outcome that actually has benefit to patients,” he adds.

The BioFab3D@ACMD facility is currently hosting two major bioenginerring projects: one centered on cartilage regeneration, the other on the repair and regeneration of damaged muscle fibers. Caballero Aguilar’s 3D bioprinting research could feasibly impact both of them.

Both research projects are using another innovative technology developed by a team from St. Vincent’s Hospital and the University of Wollongong, one which our readers might be familiar with.

The handheld “Biopen” is being used by BioFab3D@ACMD researchers to 3D bioprint cells, and could eventually be used to "draw" cells into a patient during surgery.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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