The Cerrado region in Brazil is a vast tropical savanna encompassing forest, wood and park habitats across 2,045,064 square km.
In a new project from Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation Embrapa, researchers are working to unlock the potential bioactivity of Cerrado plants through the use of 3D printers, making tissue and organ models for drug testing.
Nurture by nature
The challenge with materials made from such extracts is to rapidly fabricate them as a 3D form.
Dr. Luciano Paulino Silva, who will be leading the 3D bioprinting research at Embrapa, explains, “In traditional cultivation methods, cells are deposited in flat layers (2D) in culture microplates, forming a single layer for biological activity testing.”
“With 3D bioprinting it will be possible to reproduce some of the three-dimensional conditions of living organisms.”
Dr. Silva’s existing research includes a paper looking at the reaction of wasp venom on mammal cells to understand ways to treat infectious diseases, and an investigation of anticancer peptides.
Making “cities for microbes”
One goal of the project is to create a biofilm of living cells.
Known as “cities for microbes”, biofilms are defined as “any group of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other and often also to a surface.” In this sense, cells attached to 3D printed scaffolds could be considered biofilms.
In addition to biofilms, 3D printed tissue and organ imitations will be studied in vitro to understand the activity of compounds and biologically arranged nanosystems.
Dr. Silva concludes, “By the time we can master the multiplication model of different cell types, we can build more complex structures, such as plant and animal organs, and even create structures that begin to function as if they were a living organism.”
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Featured image: Vegetation in the Cerrado savanna, Brazil. Photo via Câmara dos Deputados