Apr 24, 2018 | By David

A team of researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Massachussetts General Hospital, and MIT have developed a new bio-ink for 3D printing that incorporates platelet-rich plasma. This will lead to 3D bio-printed tissues that have improved healing properties. Platelets in the blood enable clotting around wounds, and they also repair damage to soft tissue like blood vessels, skin, muscle, tendons. Using a platelet-rich plasma substance has proven useful as a surgical treatment in the past, and combining it with bio-printing could open up a whole new range of medical applications.

''The ultimate goal is to print functional tissue constructs that can be implanted to replace or repair damaged tissues,'' said Nebraska’s Ali Tamayol, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering. ''One of the challenges is to create structures that, when implanted in selected tissues or organs after an injury, will release growth factors that initiate the processes essential for healing and regeneration.''

The team’s bio-ink contains a mixture of an alginate gel with platelet cells. This was developed for bio-printing. The first stage, however, was to test its ability to affect healing. Initial tests carried out on the ink in a lab had promising results, when compared to a similar ink without platelets. In less than a day, the platelet-rich ink had prompted enough cell migration to heal about 50 percent of a scratch on some artificial skin, whereas the platelet-less version had covered just 5 percent of it. The ink also demonstrated the other unique property that platelets can offer, which is its ability to call for ‘reinforcement’ cells. It encouraged more than twice as many mesenchymal stem cells to migrate towards it than the platelet-less version, in a 24-hour period. These stem cells can then develop into muscle, cartilage or bone.

Calcium chloride was subsequently added to the ink, which forges bonds between some of the alginate’s polymer chains. This made the material more viscous, but still malleable enough for 3D printing. A number of structures were printed with the ink, including a grid, a tree-like structure and a serpentine line. It proved to print effectively, demonstrating the potential for both healing the body and being printable.

The 3D printed structures were then immersed in a calcium chloride solution to further strengthen them, which is a method used by the body itself. Injury sites often have naturally raised calcium levels, so the implementation of this would help reinforce 3D bio-printed alginate structures when implanted in the body. When developed to the level of surgical application, the bio-ink could also be mixed with the patient’s own platelets along with other cells. This mixture would minimize the risk of an immune response to the implanted 3D bio-printed structure, as it would be based on the patient’s own DNA.

(source: Advanced Healthcare Materials)

The team’s findings were detailed in a paper entitled ''Patient‐Specific Bioinks for 3D Bioprinting of Tissue Engineering Scaffolds'', published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. Their project received support from the National Institutes of Health, the Nebraska Tobacco Settlement and the Al-Sagri Research Fund at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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