Sep 12, 2017 | By Tess

Within the field of bioprinting, the potential benefits of using clay-based printing materials are becoming increasingly apparent. As a recent research project by a team from the University of Southampton and the Technische Universitat Dresden in Germany has shown, certain types of clay can enable the bioprinting of human stem cells.

More specifically, the joint research team has been working with Laponite, a synthetic nanosilicate clay material, to create a 3D printable bioink for making human mesenchymal stem cell structures.

The innovative bioink is made from a combination of Laponite, alginate, and methylcellulose. According to the researchers, the Laponite clay possesses a number of properties which make it suitable for bioprinting scaffolds and for drug delivery applications.

Laponite, a material typically used as a thickener or filler in the cosmetics industry, is especially notable for its shear thinning properties which help give the bioink an improved level of printability. The researchers compare shear thinning properties to ketchup in a glass bottle, which only begins to flow and move when a force—whacking the end of the bottle—is applied.

In more technical terms, Laponite’s viscosity decreases when force is applied, which essentially means that it can easily be extruded, and once the force from the extruder ceases, the printed material will stay in the desired shape.

As the researchers have shown, Laponite is also well-suited for 3D bioprinting scaffolds that house and encourage the growth of human cells. After testing various mixtures of the bioink, they found that a 3-3-3 per cent blend of Laponite, alginate, and methylcellulose was the most optimal for bioprinting a scaffold structure.

Once bioprinted, the 3D scaffolds were incubated with calcium chloride, a substance which enabled the crosslinking of the alginate. Impressively, the 3D bioprinted scaffolds made using the clay material demonstrated they could preserve their structure after 21 days of incubation. The researchers noted that the scaffold’s material did change during the incubation period, from flexible and tough at first to soft.

The results of the incubation test also showed that the 3D bioprinted scaffold made from the Laponite material enabled a high level of cell viability, with 70-75 per cent cell viability maintained after the 21-day culture period. Tests done on bioprinted scaffolds made without Laponite purportedly had much lower cell viability results.

The third advantage of the Laponite-based bioink has to do with drug delivery. According to the research team, the clay bioink is capable of releasing two types of proteins (bovine serum albumin (BSA) and vacular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)) in a sustained fashion.

Compared to the bioinks that did not contain Laponite—which reportedly had “high initial [bursts] of protein release"—the sustained release of the Laponite-based bioink could support long-term drug or protein delivery. This advantage, the researchers say, could be “an important step in the field of bioprinting.”

"The bioink consisting of Laponite, alginate, and methylcellulose showed advanced printing properties and a positive cell survival rate," commented Richard Oreffo, an author of the study and a researcher at the University of Southampton. "Our next steps will focus on enhancing the cellular response within these printed constructs, either by subsequent preservation of the crosslinked state of the scaffolds or by usage of the attractive growth factor binding capabilities of the bioink with proteins that enhance cell responses."

The full research paper, “Development of a clay-based bioink for 3D cell printing for skeletal application,” was recently published in the journal Biofabrication.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

Source: medicalphysicsweb

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