Jun 1, 2015 | By Alec

While lives are already being saved by high-level 3D printing in academic hospitals all over the world, most of these cases involve 3D printed implants and replicas used to prepare for unusual surgeries. Doubtlessly, the real 3D printing revolution in the medical world is yet to come: bio 3D printing. Involving special bio-inks made from biocompatible polymers and cells, these could be used for 3D printing just about everything in the human body, from cartilage, to bone structures and theoretically even entire new organs. And now a Swedish start-up called CELLINK has developed a bioink that could make this medical revolution happen as soon as possible.

For the current problem is this: scientific progress with these bioprinted materials is agonizingly slow. Various institutes and hospitals all over the world are experimenting with new materials and applications, but most won’t result in practical solutions for years. And that’s a problem, as an estimated 21 people waiting for organ transplants are dying every single day.

And this is exactly where CELLINK comes in. This Swedish company lead by Erik Gatenholm and Ivan Tournier have developed what they are calling the world’s first universal bioink, with optimal biocompatibility and printing fidelity. Suitable for a large variety of bioprinting applications, this innovation could vastly reduce the time companies and research institutes are spending on developing suitable bioinks and human tissue structures themselves. In short, it’s brought the bioprinting revolution so much closer.

As the two entrepreneurs explain to us, both have an extensive background in biotechnology. At age 18, Erik Gatenholm started his first medical device company, manufacturing meniscus implants and other implants, such surgical meshes for ventral hernia repairs and wound dressings. Gatenholm is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Innovation and Industrial Management at Gothenburg University in Sweden. Ivan Tournier, meanwhile, has an extensive background in the 3D bioprinting field and cartilage tissue regeneration and is currently finishing his MBA degree at Isam-Iae University in France.

And with their bioprinting goals in mind, CELLINK is releasing the world´s first 3D bioprinting ´Start-ink’ kit, which can be used to quickly develop bioink. The commonly used and much slower method involves 3D printing bioink and another polymer like material together slowly, but this kit can simply be mixed and subsequently 3D printed.

The effectiveness of this approach was explored in one of their papers in the journal Biomacromolecues. Using their nanocellulose-based hydrogel, they reported proliferation and collagen type after just 21 days of culturing. Once the printed structure is crosslinked, it also gains very useful properties such as being easy to handle, resistant to shocks and so on, making it very useful for bioprinting applications.

The next step for this promising start-up is to apply 3D bioprinting to a wider range of human tissue models, including cosmetology options, bone structures and even livers. It looks like we will be hearing a lot more CELLINK in the future. 



Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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Frankenstein 3D make your own zombie, just joking

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