May 26, 2015 | By Simon

It’s no secret that one of the most exciting developments in the additive manufacturing industry has been in the advancements in 3D bio printing - the printing of living human tissue.

While we’ve been hearing promises about the technology from a variety of companies over the past few years, 2015 has been a ‘breakthrough’ year that has shown significantly more promise for bio printing technologies - including the announcement of an upcoming surgery that will see a 3D printed thyroid gland be implanted for testing - a first of its kind.

The bio printing process, which works by taking cultured human cells and forming a bio-ink for extruding into layers of scaffolding that living tissue is then harvested from, has been largely performed in laboratories and schools with a focus on bioengineering applications that utilize living organs and other human tissues.   

But in addition to being able to create living organs and human tissue that can be used as replacements for failing systems in humans and other animals, the printing can also be used to replace what has largely been a controversial practice for years now: the testing of products on animals.  While tests for everything from shampoos and makeup to various household cleaners have been conducted on animals to test their safety, bio printing technologies will allow for companies to use synthetic living tissue as needed.  Among other companies that have been actively looking into how they can leverage bio printing to their advantage is none other than Procter & Gamble - the largest consumer goods company in the world.  

Today, the company - whose brands include everything from NyQuil and Tide to Bounty and Crest - is launching a grant competition in Singapore that asks those in academia to submit research proposals on 3D bio printing applications that would be of relevance to the consumer goods brand.  

“We want to look at the possibilities of bioprinting. It’s definitely a very strong emerging area,” said Professor Elena Lurie-Luke, head of Procter & Gamble’s Global Life Sciences Open Innovation.

The company will be joining the ranks of other companies who are looking at using bio printed tissues to test their products.  Among others, one of the most well-known of these companies has been the French cosmetics group L’Oréal - whose interest in the technology has gone so far as to partnering with bio printing startup Organovo to develop 3D printed skin. L'Oréal set up a laboratory in Lyon, France in 2011, focusing on producing in vitro skin tissue.   

“We have a number of different in vitro skin models we’re working on because we are very involved in beauty care. If companies are doing innovation and interested in new tools then bioprinting should very much be on their horizon,” added Ms Lurie-Luke.

While we are certainly expected to see some revolutionary breakthroughs with the technology thanks to the dedication and focus of many researchers and schools, the support from large international brands will only help get us there that much more faster.  



Posted in 3D Printing Company


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